Mycoplasma canis Detected in Mexican Free-Tail Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
Drury Reavill1, DVM, (Avian Practice) DABVP, DACVP; Daniel R. Brown2, PhD; Meghan May2, PhD
1Zoo/Exotic Pathology Service, Citrus Heights, CA, USA; 2Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA


Mycoplasma are pleomorphic bacteria lacking a cell wall and enclosed by a single limiting membrane. A wide variety of animal species from reptiles to birds to mammals can play host to Mycoplasma spp. Many of the pneumoniae Mycoplasma are nonpathogenic, living on mucosal surfaces, particularly in the respiratory and genital tracts. Although a small number of species are significant natural pathogens, most produce disease in conjunction with other insults or disease agents.5

A captive colony of Mexican free-tail bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) experienced a sudden increased mortality. Appetite loss and weakness were noted in a small number of cases. Histologic examination of the bats identified a mild nodular lymphoplasmacytic peribronchitis and rarely, a mild tracheitis. Paraffin-embedded tissue samples were submitted for DNA sequencing, identifying Mycoplasma canis.

Mycoplasma canis is considered a commensal or urogenital tract pathogen of dogs4, although it has been found in humans1 and in the upper respiratory tract of cattle2. The lesions within the respiratory tract and identification of the associated M. canis, suggests that these bats suffered a mycoplasmal infection. It is unknown if the infection alone was severe enough to have resulted in death of the animals. Mycoplasmosis has not been reported in bats previously.3

Literature Cited

1.  Armstrong D, Yu BH, Yagoda A, Kagnoff MF. Colonization of humans by Mycoplasma canis. J Infect Dis. 1971;124(6):607–609.

2.  Ayling RD, Bashiruddin SE, Nicholas RA. Mycoplasma species and related organisms isolated from ruminants in Britain between 1990 and 2000. Vet Rec. 2004;155(14):413–416.

3. Accessed April 3, 2008. (VIN editor: link was not accessible as of 1/14/2021.)

4.  Ulgen M, Cetin C, Sentürk S, Ozel AE, Ozdemir U. Urinary tract infections due to Mycoplasma canis in dogs. J Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med. 2006;53(7):379–382.

5.  Walker RL. Mollicutes. In: Hirsh DC, Zee YC, eds. Veterinary Microbiology. Boston, MA: Blackwell Science, Inc.; 1999:165–172.


Speaker Information
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Drury Reavill, DVM, DABVP, DACVP
Zoo/Exotic Pathology Service
Citrus Heights, CA, USA

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