February 24, 2024
Bovine Mastitis

Bovine Mastitis: Causes, Environmental factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis

Bovine mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland in cattle. It is one of the major diseases affecting dairy cattle worldwide and can have significant economic impacts on dairy farms through loss of milk production and increased treatment costs.

Causes of Bovine Mastitis

Bacterial infection
Bacteria are the main cause of bovine mastitis. Some of the common bacteria that cause mastitis in cattle include:

– Staphylococcus aureus: One of the most prevalent contagious pathogens that can spread from cow to cow.

– Streptococcus agalactiae: A contagious pathogen transmitted during milking.

– Escherichia coli: An environmental pathogen usually acquired when cows lie down in contaminated areas.

– Klebsiella pneumoniae: An environmental pathogen associated with poor hygiene and contaminated bedding materials.

The bacteria enter the udder through the teat canal during or after milking and multiply, causing inflammation in the mammary tissue.

Environmental factors
Unsanitary environments that expose the cow’s teats and udder to diseases can increase the risk of mastitis. Wet and unclean stalls or pastures, contaminated water troughs, and unhealthy milking procedures increase the chances of bacterial entry and mastitis infection.

Cow factors
Some cow-related factors also predispose cattle to Bovine Mastitis, including age, immune status, pituitary gland disorders, and prior Mastitis infections. First-calf heifers tend to have a higher incidence of mastitis. Other risk factors are trauma to the udder, inadequate gland development, and incomplete milking.

Symptoms of Bovine Mastitis

The symptoms of mastitis in cattle vary depending on whether the infection is clinical or subclinical. Clinical mastitis is easily observable and presents with visible signs such as:

– Abnormal milk: Flakes, clots or discoloration like watery, bloody or yellow milk instead of normal milk.

– Swelling of the udder: Inflammation causes swelling and hardness of one or more udder quarters.

– Heat and pain: The affected quarter feels hot and painful to touch for the cow.

– Loss of appetite: Cows tend to show reduced interest in feed and milk letdown.

Subclinical mastitis does not show obvious signs but can be detected through increased somatic cell counts in milk during regular testing of the herd. This hidden form causes significant milk production losses over time.

Diagnosis of Bovine Mastitis

To identify the type and causative pathogen of mastitis, diagnostic tests are commonly used. Some of these include:

California Mastitis Test (CMT): A cheap and quick on-farm test using chemical reagents to detect elevated somatic cell counts in milk, indicating inflammation.

Somatic Cell Count (SCC) Test: Counts white blood cells/ml of milk through an electronic cell counter. Counts above 200,000 cells/ml indicate subclinical mastitis.

Bacteriological Culturing: Identifies the specific bacteria by culturing milk samples in laboratory conditions on selective media.

PCR/DNA-based Tests: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) identifies bacteria based on their unique DNA sequences for rapid detection.

Treatment and Control of Bovine Mastitis

Treatment aims to cure clinical cases and prevent the spread of infection to other cows. Based on diagnostic test results:

– Antibiotics: Intramammary infusions of appropriate antibiotics directly into the affected quarter for 5-7 days based on culture reports.

– Anti-inflammatories: Drugs like diclofenac and flunixin provide symptomatic relief from inflammation and fever.

– Supportive Therapy: Ensure proper udder care, milk discard post-treatment, nutrition, cow comfort, etc.

Control involves prevention through good management practices like post-milking teat disinfection, dry cow therapy, calving pen hygiene, individual cow records, culling of chronic cases, and herd vaccination. Timely detection and treatment are crucial to minimize losses from this widespread disease.

Bovine mastitis is one of the leading production and economic diseases in dairy farming, costing billions annually to the global dairy industry. Adopting strict biosecurity, hygiene, and treatment protocols tailored to the herd is necessary to limit its spread and impact. Further research into newer diagnostics, therapeutics, and mastitis-resistant cattle breeds would help achieve sustainable mastitis control on dairy farms worldwide.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it