Mycoplasma ovis PCR testing

Mycoplasma ovis PCR testing

Mycoplasma ovis, formerly known as Eperythrozoon ovis, is a red cell parasite of sheep and goats, which causes ill-thrift, haemolytic anaemia and sudden death. Aside from acute disease, infection can have chronic effects such as reduced weight gain and wool production and increased susceptibility to other diseases. Awanui Veterinary is able to test for this organism using PCR.


M. ovis was first recorded in New Zealand in the late 1960s but the current prevalence of infection is unknown. In Australia and other overseas countries, infection is considered widespread, although clinical disease is infrequently reported. The bacterium is passed between sheep by any mechanism that transfers blood including biting arthropods and various husbandry procedures such as tail docking.

Clinical signs:

The clinical signs of acute infection include exercise intolerance (often noted as a long tail when moving mobs of lambs), pale mucous membranes, jaundice and sudden death. Marked splenomegaly is a prominent finding on post mortem of affected sheep. Generally clinical disease is considered uncommon and is seen mainly in lambs during the summer and autumn months.

In New Zealand, outbreaks of disease including multiple deaths have mainly been reported in the lower South Island in Merinos, but there are some indications that infection may be more prevalent in the South Island than is generally appreciated. Clinical disease in goats tends to be more severe than in sheep and has been diagnosed in this species in New Zealand.

Infection with M. ovis, similar to other blood parasites such as Theileria, is likely to be life-long and can often be clinically inapparent.


The presence of infection therefore does not necessarily mean Mycoplasma is causing the clinical signs you are observing. It is therefore important that PCR findings are interpreted alongside the clinical history, CBC results, post-mortem findings and other relevant diagnostics such as faecal egg counts. Other diseases that may cause
similar clinical signs include internal and external parasitism, trauma, copper toxicity, brassicas, leptospirosis, and clostridial disease.

Sample type: EDTA blood (1mL)
Turn-around time: 5-7 days
Price: Please refer to our current price book

If you have any questions or would like any further information, please contact your local Awanui Veterinary laboratory or Territory Manager.