Mastitis in dairy animals : an update

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Protecting Cows from Mastitis

All rights reserved. Subclinical mastitis Most commonly associated with S. Spp Milk appears normal and there is no visible sign of inflammation of the mammary gland. Diagnosis will be made on the basis on an increase in somatic cell counts in the milk. Clinical mastitis Depending on the type of pathogens involved, fever and depression could be associated with the disease. Evidence of mammary gland inflammation redness, heat, swelling, pain Physical changes in the milk from a few milk clots to appearing like serum with clumps of fibrin.

Acute mastitis organisms most commonly associated: coliform organisms including E. The milk may contain clots or flakes and can be watery, serous or purulent. Acute gangrenous mastitis Most commonly associated with S.

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Perfringens, and E. Anorexia, dehydration, depression, fever and signs of toxaemia, sometimes leading to death. Early in the disease, the gland is red, swollen and warm Within a few hours the teat becomes cold The secretions become watery and bloody The mammary gland becomes necrotic Chronic mastitis organisms most commonly associated: coagulase-negative staphylococci, S. Clinical signs of an acute infection from time to time with no clinical signs for prolonged intervals.

Milk periodically contain clots, flakes or shreds of fibrin.

Farm Resources

Mastitis in dairy cows. Home Knowledge Mastitis in dairy cows. Contagious organisms are well adapted to survival and growth in the mammary gland and are frequently responsible for chronic infections. Their prevalence increases with days in milk. Examples are Staphylococcus aureus , Streptococcus agalactiae and Mycoplasma spp.


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Environmental organism: They live in the environment, mainly in the bedding, and the infection happens between milkings. They do not have tropism for the alveolar cells so they replicate really quickly to survive. They produce short duration intramammary infections and they have high clinical incidence when animals are immunosuppressed after calving for example.

Examples are Escherichia coli, Streptococcus uberis and other coliforms like Klebsiella spp. Depending on how many are affected, we will have a different grade of mastitis. Newsletters Cattle. Share this on. Mastitis occurs when the teats of cows are exposed to pathogens which penetrate the teat duct and establish an infection in one or more quarters within the udder.

The course of an infection varies, most commonly it persists for weeks or months in a mild form which is not detected by the stockman ie. With some pathogens, typically E coli, the infection is frequently more acute and there is a general endotoxaemia with raised body temperature, loss of appetite and the cow may die unless supportive therapy is given. When clinical mastitis occurs the effective therapy is a course of antibiotic infusions through the teat duct. These nearly always remedy the clinical disease and often eliminate the bacterial infection.

Mastitis | Countdown | Dairy Australia

Infections may spontaneously recover but most persist to be eliminated eventually by antibiotic therapy or when the cow is culled. The susceptibility of cows varies considerably and new infections are most common in older cows in early lactation, at the start of the dry period and when the management is poor. Mastitis causes direct economic losses to farmers in several ways. Milk yields are reduced, milk that is abnormal or contaminated with antibiotics is unsaleable, there are veterinary and antibiotic costs, a higher culling rate and occasional fatalities.

The milk processing industry also incurs losses because of problems that result from antibiotic in milk, and the reduced chemical and bacterial quality of mastitic milk. Mastitis microorganisms, usually bacteria, originate in various sites on the cow. They multiply in various ways and are spread from cow to cow. Most common types of mastitis bacteria originate in the udders of infected cows and in sores on tests.

These pathogens multiply in teat sores and are spread during milking. The several microbial diseases of the udder that are collectively known as mastitis are distinctly different. The pathogens can arise from different primary sites, they multiply in different environments and therefore the timing of the exposure of the cow to the bacteria will vary. Subsequently the acuteness and persistency of the infections differ and also the probability of cure when therapy is given.

The commonest forms of mastitis in most countries are caused by S. The primary sites of these is the milk of infected quarters and therefore they are spread mainly at milking, either during udder preparation or on hands and milking machines.

These pathogens can colonise and multiply in teat sores and in teat ducts and this greatly increases the degree of exposure of the teats to bacteria. They usually cause chronic infections which persist in the subclinical form and occasionally become clinical when abnormal milk can be detected. Systemic infection with loss of appetite and raised body temperature is infrequent.

When suitable antibiotic preparations are infused into the udder the clinical mastitis nearly always subsides and most Str. Infections caused by Str. The main primary sites of the pathogens are bovine, but not from within the udder. These do not normally colonise teat skin and the multiplication occurs in organic bedding materials eg. These types of infection are most common in housed cattle in early lactation and whilst they can cause persisting subclinical mastitis the more typical from is clinical mastitis soon after the onset of the infection, and with coliform mastitis the endotoxaemia causes raised body temperature and marked reductions in milk production.

The course of the infection is not dissimilar to Str.

Veterinary Sciences: Research and Reviews

Many other microorganisms can cause mastitis. These less common forms are not usually important but pseudomonads and Mycoplasma bovis does cause serious problems in a few herds. Although the pathology of the various types of infection show distinct differences the causes of infection can be diagnosed with certainty only by bacteriological tests made on aseptically taken quarter milk samples.

The defence mechanisms within the udder act mainly to reduce the severity of infections but can eliminate some types of infection. Many factors influence the frequency of mastitis infection and management is particularly important. New infection is most common at drying off, at calving, in older cows and in poorly managed cows. All dairy cows are continously exposed to pathogens that can cause mastitis but new infection is normally infrequent.

This is because the exposure to pathogens is usually small. The number of pathogens in the milk of infected quarters will vary from less than to many millions per ml of milk but it is usually less than 10, per ml and further diluted by the milk from the majority of uninfected quarters. The number of pathogens on clean pasture will be extremely small. The exposure of cows teats to S. Occasionally the exposure will be increased from improperly cleaned milking equipment or through udder washing with contaminated water. This can be avoided by adopting simple methods of cleaning equipment see page The most effective way of reducing the exposure to S.

A number of disinfectant products are available and good results are obtained with hypochlorite, iodophor and chlorhexidine.

An update on environmental mastitis: Challenging perceptions

Teat disinfection greatly reduces residual contamination and more importantly encourages healing of teat sores and lesions and also prevents the growth of pathogens in teat ducts ie. Other practices such as udder washing with disinfectant, rinsing milking equipment after each cow is milked eg. To maintain low levels of exposure it is most important to maintain healthy teat skin and avoid sores, chaps and any form of teat damage.

To maintain good teat condition emolients or salves eg. Inevitably bedding becomes moist and contaminated with faeces and given sufficient warmth the growth of E. This can be prevented by avoiding using muddy corrals and by keeping cows on clean pasture.

When cattle are housed on straw or sawdust in yards or in cubicles freestalls , it should be replenished frequently, preferably daily.