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Choose the Right Mastitis Treatment

BI PreventionWorks 10/22/2012 @ 2:57pm

Individual cow care is an important component to determining treatment options.

Clinical cases of mastitis are a drain on the bottom line in dairy operationsBut dairy producers shouldn’t be quick to treat clinical mastitis the same way every time without doing some research on both the health history of the cow and the organism causing the mastitis 

Treating all cases of mastitis with tubes is like throwing money away because some mastitis cases won’t respond well to treatmentDrMark van der List, a Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., encourages dairy producers to look at the history of the cow before beginning treatment.

“Individual care of the animal is very important,” says Drvan der List“Animals will respond to treatment differentlyIf you have a chronically infected cow that has flared up with a clinical case of mastitis, treatment is unlikely to be successful.” 

On-farm culturing can give you an idea if the cow will respond to treatmentDrvan der List recommends using tubes to treat mastitis caused by Gram-positive bacteria, as long as the cow does not have a chronic history of high somatic cell counts or repeated cases of clinical mastitis.

“Infections like yeasts, mycoplasmas and chronic Staph aureus are not going to respond well to tubes, so there is no need to treat those cases with tubes,” Drvan der List addsHe also recommends against treating Gram-negative infections with tubes, citing that most studies have shown no benefit to treating those cases.

Timing and length of treatment

After you diagnose a case of clinical mastitis caused by Gram-positive bacteria, the next step is choosing the right tubeA current industry trend recommends treatment of five days or longerHowever, there is little research that supports this theory. 

Drvan der List reminds producers that extended therapy (greater than 2 days) is beneficial against certain mastitis pathogensHowever, extended therapy is more costly than shorter treatments because of treatment costs and time out of tank (saleable milk), but it may be warranted if higher cure rates are achieved.

As an example of extended therapy, Drvan der List says, “if one-third of the cases [of mastitis] are gram positive, one-third are no growth and one-third are gram negative, then it is likely that only the third that are gram positive will show any benefit to treatmentTo use blanket extended therapy on all cows when you only are going to benefit one-third of the cows will often not pencil-out.”

 “A lot of dairymen feel the need to treat until the milk looks normal,” Drvan der List says“They are probably over-treating because the inflammation will last longer than the actual infection.” 

Instead, he recommends doing a milk culture for every case, and developing a treatment plan accordingly

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