Modern approach to diagnosis and prevention of subclinical mastitis

Mastitis remains to be wide spread and the most expensive disease of milk cattle worldwide. According to resent studies, the costs for its treatment are above 26% of all expenditures related to diseases of milk cattle. Economic losses due to mastitis are two times higher than those due to animal infertility. How can this problem be sold?

Subclinical mastitis is a very serious problem, as the unhealthy udder is the carrier of microorganisms, which are infectious agents for other animals in the stock. Statistical data show that 70–80% of losses due to mastitis account for the subclinical form of the disease with only 20–30% for clinical form.


Even now many specialists underestimate the incidence as well as economic value of subclinical mastitis because on its background milk composition remains within the norm. Nevertheless, this pathology has a significant effect on economic welfare of the farm because:


-          the number of subclinical mastitis cases in cows is 15–40 times higher than that of clinical mastitis;


-          subclinical mastitis precedes clinical one;


-          long time passes;


-          diagnosis if difficult;


-          it is the cause of milk yield drop;


-          it worsens the quality of obtained milk.


There are several methods for diagnosing subclinical mastitis in individual cows or in the whole stock. Special attention should be payed to the method of measuring electrical conductivity of milk. Milk farms started to consider it as the routine one for udder status monitoring in relatively recent time. This method is based on different salt concentration levels in milk taken from infected and healthy udder dug. Concentration of sodium and chloride ions increases due to their penetration to milk from blood during inflammatory process. The changes in quantitative composition of ions impact milk conductivity.


An effective tool for early diagnosis of subclinical mastitis in cows is the portable device MAS-D-TEC.

Having the size of pocket flash light, it allows testing the udder lobes for mastitis for less than 20–30 seconds! Compactness and durability, no need for consumables, easy interpretation of results, measurement rate, and no necessity to flash the detector between tests are highly evaluated by specialists working in milk farms. The test result is shown on the display for 2–3 seconds (1 unit in the display corresponds to 100,000 somatic cells per 1 ml of milk).


Diagnosis of subclinical mastitis in cows of the whole stock using such device is performed according to the protocol. According to the diagnosis results, animals with positive values (higher than 4–5 U that corresponds to 400,000–500,000 somatic cells per 1 ml of milk) are included in the special sheet. Actual results show that only one quarter of the udder is involved in 70–80% of the revealed subclinical mastitis cases.

The use of classical antibacterial agents (antibiotics) is unnecessary in this situation. First, there are no direct indications, and second, it is not economically reasonable because it leads to culling of commercial milk obtained from healthy lobes. Therefore, animals with subclinical mastitis of only one udder quarter undergo a 4-day treatment course with special Comfort Cow Care spray lotion (fig. 4). It is applied 2–3 ml twice a day to the entire affected quarter. Comfort Cow Care is the aid for udder care based on essential oils with wide range of biological activity as well as antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. Comfort Cow Care spray lotion differs principally from topical heating preparations by the mechanism of action and caused effects: it is rapidly absorbed into the skin, alleviates pain in animals and is effective in udder edema.



After the course of treatment with Comfort Cow Care, all milk lobes are tested again in animals using the MAS-D-TEC device, and all parameters are registered in the relevant sheet. Practice shows that pathologic process stops in the affected lobe after the first treatment course with the lotion in 70–80% of the animals, after second course — in 15–25%, and 5–15% of animals require treatment with antibiotics. Meanwhile, antibacterial treatment has a good effect because early systemic diagnosis of subclinical mastitis allows revealing initial stages of inflammation, which are successfully treated, especially in first-calvers.


The economic efficacy of this method is about 1,200 Rubles per cow with preserving only marketability of milk (without pulling by antibiotics).


In further articles, we will describe the protocol for diagnostic procedures in details and provide an analysis of economic efficacy for preventive and treatment courses.

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