High Mortality Event of Hong Kong Newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis) in Taipei Zoo
IAAAM 2016
Wen-Ta Li1*+; Hui-Wen Chang1; Victory Fei Pang1; Chen-Hsuan Liu1; Fun-In Wang1; Ting-Yu Chen2; Jun-Cheng Guo2; Chian-Ren Jeng1
1Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan; 2Taipei Zoo, Taipei, Taiwan


A high mortality event of Hong Kong newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis) occurred during Nov. 2014 to June 2015 in Taipei Zoo. Predominant histopathological findings were multifocal necrotic foci in liver, spleen, and kidney with no or minimal inflammatory cell infiltration and the presence of abundant acid-fast positive bacilli. There were also multifocal to coalescing skin ulcerations with intralesional fungal hyphae morphologically consistent with Saprolegnia spp.1 Diffusely, the skeletal muscles showed varying degrees of degeneration characterized by swelling, increased eosinophilia, vacuolation, and fragmentation. The DNA of Mycobacterium spp. was detected via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) by using the primer sets targeting the heat-shock protein genes (hsp65) and internal transcribed spacer (ITS),2-5 and purified PCR amplicons were directly sequenced. The Mycobacterium spp. was 100% identical to the Mycobacterium marinum (M. marinum). Furthermore, the M. marinum also contained the mycolactone-producing plasmid, suggestive of mycolactone-producing mycobacteria (MPM).6,7 The lesions in these cases caused by MPM were multiple necrotic foci, which are quite different from the conventional granulomatous lesions seen in mycobacteriosis,8,9 which could be associated with the anti-inflammatory and apoptotic effects of mycolactone and the impaired immune function due to natural (decreased temperature) and anthropogenic stressors (inappropriate manipulation).10 Furthermore, the MPM may cause diseases in both ectotherms and endotherms, and is also considered as a zoonotic disease. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of MPM infection in Hong Kong newt.


The authors' thanks to all the pathology residencies in Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, National Taiwan University (NTU) for helping case/sample collection and idea discussion, to Dr. Albert Taiching Liao and his students in School of Veterinary Medicine, NTU for molecular diagnosis, and to the veterinarians/animal keepers in Taipei Zoo for helping the necropsy and sample collection.

* Presenting author
+ Student presenter

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Speaker Information
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Wen-Ta Li, MVM
Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology
School of Veterinary Medicine
National Taiwan University
Taipei, Taiwan

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