Mycoplasma haemolamae -  Molecular diagnosis (PCR)


Mycoplasma haemolamae is a Gram - negative bacterium parasitic erythrocytes, the genus Mycoplasma (family Mycoplasmataceae), previously known as Eperythrozoon (EPE). Mycoplasma haemolamae affects camelids such as llamas, alpacas and guanacos, which does not affect other animals. In camelids, when the infection is mild it does not cause symptoms, but when the infection is elevated causes anemia, accompanied by their corresponding signs and symptoms. Although this organism has a worldwide distribution, it is preferably in the US and South America.

Mycoplasmas are microorganisms polymorphic form, coccoid, bacillary or annular, 0.3-0.8 microns in diameter, demanding from the nutritional point of view for cultivation, which need a rich growth medium protein, serum containing as a source of sterols. The absence of cell wall structure makes them osmotically labile, and polymorphs.

The life cycle of this organism hemático involves an intermediate host, such as arthropod vectors, probably fleas, mosquitoes and ticks, which only have been able to experimentally confirm that transmit the infection during feeding, and where mature definitive host. In addition to the alleged transmission through arthropod vectors, infection could be transmitted via transplacental and transmammary. Of these two routes, it has only been able to demonstrate experimentally intrauterine transmission rarely, but not the transmission transmammary colostrum. One way is supported through the use of needles or surgical material vaccinations and through blood transfusions from carrier animals, so care should be taken to avoid reusing needles and syringes between different animals. Once in the bloodstream the definitive host, Mycoplasma haemolamae adheres to erythrocyte membranes, which are embedded and feed protein. As a result, it increases the fragility of the erythrocytes and the elimination of these cells in the spleen, resulting in anemia, when the infection is high, which can cause death of the animal.

Most infections are subclinical Mycoplasma haemolamae and cause no signs or symptoms disease when the concentration of bacteria in the blood is low, and the immune system is controlled. However, in some animals the immune system is not able to effectively control the infection, and mycoplasmas multiply uncontrollably, leading to a destruction of red blood cells, studying with clinical symptoms of anemia, lethargy, fever, diarrhea and anorexia, accompanied by chronic weight loss. Often a loss of fertility occurs.

Situations that cause stress, physical or psychic, animal, and climatological factors, dietary shifts, ..., can affect immunity and thus immune control of the infection.

Recommended tests for diagnosis:


The diagnosis has been based until 2002 l in the microscopic observation of bacteria in blood smears. However, microscopic observation, the small size of the bacteria and its polymorphism, is difficult and very sensitive, especially when the amount of bacteria in blood is low. Since that year molecular methods (PCR) were introduced and since then has a very sensitive method to detect its presence in blood, even when the amount of bacteria is small.

Therefore, currently the test of choice is PCR test (Polymerase Chain Reaction) in peripheral blood samples.

Tests in IVAMI:


  • Molecular diagnosis (PCR), to detect DNA of Mycoplasma haemolamae.

Recommended sample:


  • Whole blood collected with EDTA (2 to 5 mL).


Preservation and shipment of sample:


  • Refrigerated (preferred) for less than 2 days.
  • Frozen: over 2 days (for molecular diagnostic tests only).


Delivery term:


  • Molecular diagnosis (PCR): 24 to 48 hours.

Cost of the test: