Although many areas remain dry at present, some dairy areas have had significant wet weather. Wet muddy weather can lead to an increase in environmental mastitis cases, especially if cows are calving or lying in contaminated boggy areas.
The most common environmental mastitis bacteria are Escherichia coli and Streptococcus uberis. Others bacteria that can be responsible for mastitis at times are Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, Nocardia, Arcanobacterium, Bacillus, and Enterobacter. Nocardia and Pseudomonas rarely respond to treatment and culling is generally recommended. Strep uberis and E coli usually respond well to treatment, although E coli can sometimes cause sudden illness from toxin production (especially in downer cows) and Strep uberis occasionally becomes a chronic infection.
Although the reservoir of infection is the environment, it is still possible for these infections to be spread in the shed, so normal shed hygiene is vital.
Several management actions can aid in preventing wet weather environmental mastitis.
[crosshead]Udder preparation before milking
[crosshead]Identify and treat mastitis cases quickly
Although most environmental mastitis cases respond well to therapy it is still a significant loss of milk from the vat and prevention and preparedness is always better than 'cure'. Happy milking.
*Sherri Jaques is a practising veterinarian and reproduction adviser in the West Gippsland region of Victoria.
All comments and information discussed in this article are intended to be of a general nature only. Please consult a veterinarian for herd health advice, protocols and/or treatments that are tailored to a herd's particular needs.