Mycoplasma–Associated Arthritis: Critical Points for Diagnosis

Researchers from Iowa State University offer advice on the diagnosis of arthritis caused by Mycoplasma species, a condition that appears to be a growing concern in the US Midwest.
calendar icon 13 April 2012
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Mycoplasma hyosynoviae and Mycoplasma hyorhinis are known causative agents of arthritis in swine after weaning, according to Dr Joao Carlos Gomes Neto and colleagues at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University in a paper in Journal of Swine Health and Production.

They explain that infectious arthritis in swine is commonly associated with bacteria, with pathogens isolated from arthritic joints including M. hyosynoviae and M. hyorhinis. Infectious arthritis is an increasing concern to producers as it may contribute to compromised animal welfare and decrease profitability of the operation. Despite concerns and a long history of recognition, the Iowa researchers say that information is often lacking regarding the pathogenesis, epidemiology and control of infectious arthritis in modern production systems.

The Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (ISU-VDL) diagnosed 431 cases of lameness in the Midwest United States between 2003 and 2010. Overall, 69 per cent (298 of 431) of the clinical cases had evidence of infectious arthritis. Mycoplasma species accounted for an average of 17 per cent of arthritis cases over the whole period, with an increasing frequency in recent years, up to 37 per cent (41 of 111) in 2010, according to Gomes Neto and co-authors.

This diagnostic note summarizes disease characteristics of both pathogens and describes appropriate procedures to diagnose Mycoplasma-associated arthritis.

An accurate diagnosis is critical to establishing effective treatment and prevention measures in affected herds, stressed Gomes Neto and co-authors.

To diagnose Mycoplasma-associated arthritis, the Iowa researchers recommended:

  • an accurate and complete history is critical to a definitive diagnosis of lameness in swine
  • select untreated animals in the acute stage of lameness for submission to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory
  • joint fluid, joint swabs, synovium in 10 per cent formalin, or whole affected legs may be submitted to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for lameness diagnostics.
  • ancillary tests, such as PCR or culture of joint fluid or swabs, are useful to confirm the presence of Mycoplasma species.
  • a complete diagnosis of Mycoplasma-associated arthritis requires the presence of microscopic lesions and identification of the organism in affected tissue, and
  • to communicate with the veterinary diagnostic laboratory if there are any questions.


Gomes Neto J.C., P.C. Gauger, E.L. Strait, N. Boyes, D.M. Madson and K.J. Schwartz. 2012. Mycoplasma-associated arthritis: critical points for diagnosis. J Swine Health Prod. 20(2):82–86.

Further Reading

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Further Reading

- Find out more information on mycoplasma-associated arthritis by clicking here.

April 2012
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