During an 18-mo period (May 2002–November 2003), 10 animals in a herd of 19 reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) at the National Animal Disease Center (NADC) experienced episodes of anemia. Affected animals had histories of weight loss, unthriftiness, occasionally edema of dependent parts and moderate anemia characterized by microcytosis or macrocytosis, hypochromasia, schistocytosis, keratocytosis, acanthocytosis, and dacryocytosis. Numerous basophilic punctate to ring-shaped bodies, measuring less than 1.0 μm, were found on the surface of red blood cells and were often observed encircling the outer margins of the cells. Based on cytologic findings, DNA preparations from selected affected animals in the NADC herd and one animal from a private herd experiencing similar episodes of anemia were assayed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of hemotropic bacteria using primers targeting the 16S rRNA genes of Mycoplasma (Eperythrozoon) suis, Mycoplasma (Haemobartonella) haemofelis, Anaplasma marginale, Anaplasma spp., and Ehrlichia spp. Amplification products were detected from four of the affected animals using primers specific for the 16S rRNA gene of M. haemofelis and Mycoplasma haemocanis. Product from one of the animals was sequenced and internal primers were designed from the resulting sequence to perform a nested PCR assay. Samples from 10 reindeer were positive using the nested PCR reaction and products from seven animals were sequenced; BLAST searches and phylogenetic analysis were performed on the resulting sequences. Sequence data from six animals revealed homology to an organism most closely related to Mycoplasma ovis, Mycoplasma wenyonii, and Mycoplasma haemolamae; sequence from a single animal was most closely related to M. haemofelis and M. haemocanis. This represents the first identification of a haemomycoplasma species in reindeer. Although several animals were also infected with abomasal nematodes, the presence of this newly described haemomycoplasma may have contributed to the anemic syndrome.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2