Chronic bronchopneumonia in lambs, also known as 'atypical' or 'chronic, non-progressive' pneumonia is a common, frequently sub-clinical disease affecting animals under 12-months-old in intensive production systems. Infection with both Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and Mannheimia haemolytica have been implicated in the aetiology of this condition and a variety of pulmonary lesions can result. In this study, detailed laboratory examination of 30 abattoir-derived lungs with the characteristic gross features of atypical pneumonia (AP) was carried out with a view to refining and correlating the histopathological and microbiological criteria required for the diagnosis of this disease. For the first time a broad range of laboratory detection techniques including bacterial and virus isolation, fluorescent antibody tests and immunohistochemistry were used in parallel to identify potential causative pathogens such as M. ovipneumoniae, M. haemolytica, parainfluenza type-3 (PI3) virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in AP lesions. The most consistent finding was the association of gross AP lesions with M. ovipneumoniae, identified by either culture or immunohistochemistry in 27 (90%) of the 30 cases. However the presence M. ovipneumoniae organisms or antigen did not consistently correlate with particular histopathological changes. Furthermore, peri-airway lymphoid hyperplasia, intra-alveolar exudation and nodular 'hyaline scars', which are all previously reported microscopic lesions of AP, were not identified in 12 (40%) of the cases and isolation of M. haemolytica was over-represented in lungs exhibiting suppurative lesions. These findings illustrate the complex aetiopathogenesis of this disease and highlight the requirement to use a combination of diagnostic criteria in its laboratory diagnosis.
University College Dublin ->