May 21, 2024
Bovine Mastitis

Bovine Mastitis: A Major Scourge for the Dairy Industry

Bovine mastitis is one of the most common and costly diseases affecting the dairy industry worldwide. It is an inflammation of the Bovine Mastitis in cows that can have severe economic implications for dairy farmers. Despite years of research and developments in diagnostic tools and treatments, mastitis continues to pose a huge challenge.

Causes of Mastitis
The primary causes of mastitis in dairy cattle can be broadly classified into contagious and environmental factors.

Contagious Mastitis
Contagious or infectious mastitis is caused by various bacteria that can be transmitted from one cow to another, usually during the milking process. Some of the major bacterial pathogens that cause contagious mastitis include:

– Staphylococcus aureus: S. aureus is one of the most prevalent causes of contagious mastitis worldwide. It can easily spread from cow to cow during milking.

– Streptococcus agalactiae: Strep. agalactiae, also known as Strep. uberis, is another important cause of contagious mastitis, especially in herds with poor hygiene.

– Mycoplasma spp.: Mycoplasma is an emerging cause of chronic and hard-to-treat mastitis in dairy herds. It does not respond well to antibiotic treatment.

Environmental Mastitis
In environmental or non-contagious Bovine Mastitis, the primary causes are environmental pathogens that cows get exposed to in their surroundings. Some of the common environmental bacterial pathogens include:

– Escherichia coli: E. coli is one of the leading causes of environmental mastitis, usually affecting cows at the time of parturition when immunocompromised.

– Klebsiella spp.: Klebsiella bacteria originating from bedding materials and manure can infect cows and cause mastitis.

– Streptococcus uberis: Apart from being contagious, Strep. uberis can also cause environmental mastitis when cows are exposed to the bacteria in wet ordirty living conditions.

Symptoms of Mastitis
The cardinal signs of mastitis in dairy cattle are physical changes in the udder and milk, along with systemic symptoms.

– Swelling and hardness of the udder, particularly in the affected quarter/s.

– Milk appears abnormal – watery, bloody or clotted depending on the severity of infection.

– Decreased or no milk production from the infected quarter.

– Fever and decreased appetite are also seen in some cows with acute mastitis.

– In severe and untreated cases, the udder tissue may shred or abscesses may form.

Economic Impacts of Mastitis
Mastitis exerts enormous financial burden on the dairy industry worldwide. According to estimates, the global annual cost of mastitis ranges anywhere between $180 million to $200 million.

Direct production losses:
– Decreased milk yield during the mastitic period
– Premature culling of high-producing cows due to chronic or repeated mastitis
– Milk discarded due to presence of blood or clots

Additional treatment costs:
– Drugs and medicines used for treatment and prevention
– Labor and veterinary charges
– Extra milkings required for mastitic cows

Indirect losses:
– Increased somatic cell counts affecting milk quality and farm income
– Reduced cow longevity and herd turnover
– Disruption of herd breeding schedules

Mastitis Prevention Strategies
A comprehensive prevention strategy with focus on both contagious and environmental pathogens is required to effectively control mastitis in dairy herds.

Good milking hygiene: Proper disinfection of teats before and after milking using suitable mastitis disinfectant, proper functioning and maintenance of milking machine are crucial.

Dry cow therapy: Most farms administer intramammary antibiotic tubes during the dry period to eliminate existing infections and prevent new ones during early lactation.

Housing and bedding management: Cows should be housed in well-ventilated, clean barns with dry, soft bedding that does not predispose to new infections.

Vaccination: Vaccines against major mastitis-causing pathogens like Staph. aureus provide additional protection to cows. However, vaccination alone cannot replace other management strategies.

Herd monitoring: Regular monitoring of somatic cell counts, bacteriological culture of milk, cow-level exams helps identify subclinical cases early and direct control efforts.

Stress reduction: Minimizing predisposing factors like overcrowding, changes in diet or environment aids in mastitis prevention. Good hygiene during calving also helps.

Bovine mastitis imposes enormous costs to dairy operations worldwide. Its effective prevention and control necessitates adoption of a multi-pronged herd-level approach addressing the major infectious agents and optimizing milking, housing and cow comfort practices. With diligent implementation of best preventive strategies, incidence of mastitis can be significantly reduced thereby enhancing farm productivity and profitability.

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