The epidemiology of mastitis in Australian dairy cattle : a dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology)

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Massey University
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This study represents an aggregation of knowledge on mastitis within the Australian dairy industry. Aspects of the epidemiology and economics of mastitis have been collated and areas of missing knowledge identified. A clinical treatment trial was conducted on subclinical mastitis to identify the role of therapy upon subclinical infection. The effect of individual variables on mastitis risk was studied and aggregated in order to facilitate the development of a computer simulation model of mastitis within Australian dairy herds. A literature review of mastitis within the Australian dairy industry was conducted. The economic impact of mastitis was examined and the pathway of economic loss to the dairy industry is discussed. The epidemiology of mastitis was studied with special emphasis on quantification of the effect of individual risk factors on the occurrence of disease. Performance parameters for the current diagnostic tests applied within the dairy industry are presented and their suitability for use in a commercial environment discussed. The impact of self-cure and the efficacy of therapeutic intervention in the disease are examined. The role of culling is presented. The chapter concludes with an estimation of die total economic losses experienced on a commercial dairy farm in Victoria in 1998 for three different mastitis levels. The economic benefit to be gained from a reduction in mastitis is also presented. A clinical treatment trial of subclinically infected cows (high somatic cell count) was conducted in order to determine if therapeutic intervention was an effective management tool. Cows with somatic cell counts in excess of 500,000 cells per ml and more than 14 days calved were selected and randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. A pooled quarter milk sample was taken prior to treatment and repeated at around six weeks after treatment. Treated cows received a course of intramammary and parenteral antibiotics and control cows were untreated. Cows were followed for the rest of the lactation of treatment and into the subsequent lactation and somatic cell counts were recorded. The major pathogens identified were S anreus and S uberis. Treatment did not have a significant or commercially useful effect upon bacteriological cure rates, survival of cows to the next lactation or somatic cell count for the remainder of the lactation. Treatment of high somatic cell count cows during lactation is not recommended and is discussed. A requirement exists for the development of a stochastic simulation model of mastitis within Australian dairy herds. The structure of such a model was developed and is presented. Underlying production and somatic cell count responses in Australian cattle were derived. Infection status variables were included and stochasticity was introduced through the use of control variates. State transition probabilities were collected from the literature. Deficiencies in knowledge were identified and methods for modeling these deficient areas discussed. The aggregated information is presented. It is expected that a working stochastic simulation model of mastitis within Australian dairy herds will be developed from infomation collected in this dissertation.
Australia, Epidemiology, Mastitis, Treatment