What’s New in Bovine Mastitis Management?

Posted on: April 05, 2017

3 modern developments in mastitis management

As modern approaches to managing bovine mastitis take an ever increasing ‘prevention is better than cure’ direction, we take a look at three of the latest developments in the field:

Understanding the diverse microworld of the mammary gland

Recent research into the sequencing and analysis of hyper-variable regions within the 16S rRNA gene has allowed new insight into the biodiversity and composition of the mammary microbiome. Results suggest that this previously unmapped micro-scape is more diverse than ever imagined, with over 20 species found consistently as residents.

Excitingly, it was shown that introduction of known mastitis pathogens saw consistent responses in the microbiome population to restore equilibrium. There is hope that further study into the population dynamics here will result in treatments that promote a healthy microbiome that is more resistant to pathogenic bacterial challenges.

Carefully timed immune modulation

To further investigate the knowledge that many infections acquired during the dry period do not manifest themselves clinically until the subsequent lactation, sharp focus has been put on immunobiology throughout the production cycle.

It was shown that the dam’s immune system has a dynamic regulation of peripheral blood monocyte composition and moDC function by stage of lactation and pregnancy, specifically showing reduced populations of inflammatory monocytes, antigen presentation and Th1-type cytokine production in late gestation. Despite these changes to immune function in late gestation though, the mammary gland has been shown to still able to generate protective immunity in the dry period to eliminate E. coli intra-mammary infection effectively and reduce clinical severity.

Applying this knowledge to the development of treatment protocols, parenteral treatment with immune modulators in late gestation has been shown to reduce clinical mastitis incidence immediately postpartum significantly. In addition to this, intramammary immunization may provide an excellent opportunity to stimulate the local immune response without necessarily affecting the systemic bias in late gestation.

Antibiotic use gets personal

Responsible use of antibiotics is a constant balancing act between the need to reduce usage to help slow the development of resistance and ensuring that welfare obligations are met in terms of preventing and managing clinical disease.

To help navigate this fine line, rational decision rules can be developed to help determine treatment protocols. As example of such a system sets individual cow somatic cell count thresholds for treatment, that are variable dependent on the herds’ bulk tank counts.

Personalising antibiotic treatment protocols like this allows a much more targeted approach to antibiotic usage, in line with reduction targets.

These are just three promising new avenues of exploration in bovine mastitis management.

This blog is based on Dr Ynte Schukken’s presentation on ‘New Developments of Bovine Mastitis’ at the Bayer Dairy Cattle Summit 2017.

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April 05, 2017