Identification of serogroup M in Tasmania

Serogroup M, a comparatively rare serogroup of D. nodosus, was detected in sheep flocks in Tasmania.

Dhungyel, O., Schiller, N., Whittington, R. 2015, ‘Identification and characterization of serogroup M Dichelobacter nodosus from sheep with virulent footrot’, Veterinary Microbiology 176(3-4), pp. 378-381


As part of an outbreak-specific footrot vaccination field trial a total of 1282 footrot lesion samples were collected from 2 sheep flocks on King Island, Tasmania. Breeding rams were shared between the two flocks, suggesting a common source of infection. All samples were tested for Dichelobacter nodosus. A total of 1047 D. nodosus isolates were obtained in pure culture (490 from 670 lesion samples from flock 1, and 557 from 612 lesion samples from flock 2) were tested by agglutination and PCR tests for the 9 common Australian serogroups A to I. After the first rounds of a specific vaccination program, a significant proportion of the isolates of D. nodosus from these flocks were found to be negative in the serogrouping tests and the prevalence of the disease remained high in both. Those isolates were tested retrospectively against New Zealand and Nepal serogroup M antisera and found to be positive. Fimbrial gene (fimA) sequences of three isolates collected over three years were identical indicating that these strains belonged to one serogroup and were most closely related to New Zealand and Nepal serogroup M sequences. More than 40% of the D. nodosus isolates from these flocks belonged to serogroup M and were virulent in tests for protease activity. The next most prevalent serogroup was A (23%). This study reports the identification and characterization of serogroup M isolates of D. nodosus from Australia, and led to routine testing for serogroup M in flocks where specific vaccination will be applied for control, treatment and eradication of the virulent footrot.

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