Fusobacterium necrophorum, a Gram-negative, anaerobic bacterium, is an opportunistic animal and human pathogen that causes a variety of infections termed necrobacillosis. There are 2 subspecies of F. necrophorum (subsp. necrophorum and subsp. funduliforme) that differ morphologically and biochemically and in virulence. Leukotoxin, a secreted protein, is considered to be the major virulence factor. In camelids, F. necrophorum causes a variety of infections, generally involving the lips, tongue, pharynx, interdigital spaces, foot pad, larynx, mandible, or maxillary bones. The objective of the current study was to characterize the presumptive Fusobacterium isolates from a variety of necrotic infections in llama (Lama glama) and alpaca (Vicugna pacos) and determine whether the strains possess leukotoxin activities. A total of 7 isolates from alpaca and 2 isolates from llama were characterized. Based on growth characteristics in broth culture, and biochemical and polymerase chain reaction analyses, all 9 isolates belonged to subsp. necrophorum and possessed the putative hemagglutinin gene. Western blot analysis with antileukotoxin antibodies raised in rabbit showed the presence of leukotoxin protein in the culture supernatant of all isolates. Furthermore, flow cytometry of the culture supernatants demonstrated cytotoxicity to bovine and alpaca polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). The extent of cytotoxicity to either alpaca or bovine PMNs differed among camelid strains. The cytotoxicity of many of the camelid strains was higher (P < 0.05) toward alpaca PMNs compared to bovine PMNs. Fusobacterium necrophorum isolates from llama and alpaca are similar to bovine isolates, and leukotoxin may be a major virulence factor.
- Fusobacterium necrophorum subsp. necrophorum,
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