Use of Artemisinin to Treat Mycoplasma haemolama Infection in Llamas Public


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  • Mycoplasma haemolamae is associated with mild to marked anemia in stressed, immune-suppressed, and debilitated animals, and may be found in low numbers in healthy animals. The continued presence of the organism, detectable by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay, may be associated with an underlying problem, such as stress or immune-suppression that prevents the immune system from completely clearing M. haemolamae. Treatment with tetracycline can improve anemia, and decrease bacterial numbers, but it does not clear the infection in the majority of cases. Artemisinin (quinghaosu), an herbal remedy derived from wormwood, has been shown to successfully treat malaria in humans. The purpose of this research was to test use of artemisinin to treat M. haemolamae infection in camelids. Six llamas, negative for M. haemolamae by PCR and blood smear examination, were experimentally infected with the bacteria by transfusion of an infected alpaca‘s blood. Once the llamas were positive for M. haemolamae as detected by PCR, they were treated with 200 mg of artemisinin given twice daily for a total of 20 days (5 days of treatment followed by 5 days of no treatment for four rounds). Blood was collected every other day during the treatment cycle and weekly for one month after the treatment cycle ended. PCR, packed cell volume, plasma protein, and blood smear diagnosis were performed on these samples. Four of the llamas remained positive by PCR after one month of treatment. Two llamas were negative at the end of the month and were immune-suppressed by dexamethasone to determine if artemisinin had cleared the M. haemolamae infection. Both llamas became positive once immune-suppressed with the corticosteroid. These results suggest that artemisinin did not effectively clear M. haemolamae infection in the six llamas.
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