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Open Access Characterization of a Mycobacterium ulcerans-Like Infection in a Colony of African Tropical Clawed Frogs (Xenopus tropicalis)

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A nontuberculous Mycobacterium ulcerans-like organism was identified as the causative agent of an epizootic of mycobacteriosis in a colony of African tropical clawed frogs, Xenopus (Silurana) tropicalis, at the University of California, Berkeley. Diverse clinical signs of disease were observed, including lethargy, excess buoyancy, coelomic effusion, cutaneous ulcers, and granulomas. Visceral granulomas, ulcerative and granulomatous dermatitis, coelomitis, and septicemia were common findings at necropsy. Identification of M. ulcerans-like organisms was based on molecular and phenotypical characteristics. The findings of this investigation indicate that this M. ulcerans-like organism is a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in aquatic anurans and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of coelomic effusion in amphibians. Furthermore, if this Mycobacterium species ultimately is identified as M. ulcerans, X. tropicalis should be considered a potential source of this important public health pathogen.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720 2: Anatomic Pathology Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis, California 95616 3: Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305 4: Office of Laboratory Animal Care, University of California, 203 Northwest Animal Facility, Berkeley, California 94720

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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