Barn- Microsoft clip art 

Down on the farm 

Mycoplasma bovis can be found in a large range of habitats either within the animal itself or on a substrate. Because of this Mycoplasma bovis can cause a large range of effects in multiple areas of the body.

Areas of the cow that Mycoplasma bovis can infect include: 

 Cross section of infected lung


Lungs (pneumonia)- Mycoplasma bovis can cause severe forms of pneumonia in calves at a very early age. This results in a higher mortality rate among those infected. The problem with an infection of Mycoplasma bovis in the lungs is the ability to easily be dispersed to other animals and thus infecting them. This is especially the case when multiple calves are kept in close proximity of one another and the bacteria is being transmitted in the air (Brishard 2003).

Mycoplasma infection of the joint

Joints (Arthritis)- Mycoplasma bovis that is contracted by a young calf, through either infected milk or contracted pneumonia, has the ability to travel to various parts of the body. One of the most common areas is the joints (check out adaptations). What develops is swelling of the joint and severe pain to the animal. The arthritis can either spread to a single joint in the animal or multiple joints, greatly affecting the ability of the animal to move (Brishard 2003).

Picture of healthy udder (taken by author)

Udder (Mastitis)- Mycoplasma bovis that infects the udder of a cow has a dramatic effect on production of milk in many dairy herds. Mycoplasma mastitis is very problematic when compared to other forms of mastitis. This is due to the fact that very few effective treatments have been developed to help fight off a Mycoplasma infection leading to severe inflammation of the quarter that is infected. It is not uncommon for Mycoplasma bovis to spread to multiple quarters causing severe drops in milk production (Brishard 2003). For more information see Interesting facts.  

Substrate That can carry Mycoplasma bovis (Taken by Author)

Substrate (Feed for animal)- What makes Mycoplasma bovis such an effective parasite is its ability to live outside of a host for a period of time (Mayer 2007). What this allows for is the ability to be contracted by organisms who feed from the same feed trough or water cup as an infected animal. Depending on the structure, temperature of the substrate, and environment, Mycoplasma bovis has the ability to survive for up to 20 to 30 days outside of a host. Also, Mycoplasma bovis does particularly well in damp dark areas being that the organism is anaerobic (Mayer 2007). This means that large piles of manure and un-kept pens are perfect breeding grounds for Mycoplasma bovis.

Cow (Courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art)
Created By: Garrett Blumer
University of Wisconsin- La Crosse

Page Last Updated: April 25, 2008