Evaluation of the udder health status in subclinical mastitis affected dairy cows through bacteriological culture, somatic cell count and thermographic imaging

Open access


Subclinical mastitis in dairy cows is a big economic loss for farmers. The monitoring of subclinical mastitis is usually performed through Somatic Cell Count (SCC) in farm but there is the need of new diagnostic systems able to quickly identify cows affected by subclinical infections of the udder. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential application of thermographic imaging compared to SCC and bacteriological culture for infection detection in cow affected by subclinical mastitis and possibly to discriminate between different pathogens. In this study we evaluated the udder health status of 98 Holstein Friesian dairy cows with high SCC in 4 farms. From each cow a sample of milk was collected from all the functional quarters and submitted to bacteriological culture, SCC and Mycoplasma spp. culture. A thermographic image was taken from each functional udder quarter and nipple. Pearson’s correlations and Analysis of Variance were performed in order to evaluate the different diagnostic techniques. The most frequent pathogen isolated was Staphylococcus aureus followed by Coagulase Negative Staphylococci (CNS), Streptococcus uberis, Streptococcus agalactiae and others. The Somatic Cell Score (SCS) was able to discriminate (p<0.05) cows positive for a pathogen from cows negative at the bacteriological culture except for cows with infection caused by CNS. Infrared thermography was correlated to SCS (p<0.05) but was not able to discriminate between positive and negative cows. Thermographic imaging seems to be promising in evaluating the inflammation status of cows affected by subclinical mastitis but seems to have a poor diagnostic value.

Benites NR, Guerra JL, Melville PA, da Costa EO (2002) Aetiology and histopathology of bovine mastitis of espontaneous occurrence. J Vet Med B 49: 366-370.

Berry RJ, Kennedy AD, Scott SL, Kyle BL, Schaefer AL (2003) Daily variation in the udder surface temperature of dairy cows measured by infrared thermography: Potential for mastitis detection. Can J Anim Sci 83: 687-693.

Bertocchi L, Vismara F, Hathaway T, Fusi F, Scalvenzi A, Bolzoni G, Zanardi G, Varisco G, (2012) Evoluzione dell;eziologia della mastite bovina nel Nord Italia dal 2005 al 2011 (Evolution of the aetiology of bovine mastitis in Northern Italy from 2005 to 2011). Large Anim Rev 18: 51-58.

Blowey RW, Edmondson P (2010) Mastitis control in dairy herds, 2nd ed., Cabi Publisher, London.

Colak A, Polat B, Okumus Z, Kaya M, Yanmaz LE, Hayirli A (2008) Short communication: early detection of mastitis using infrared thermography in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 91: 4244 – 4248.

Djabri B, Bareille N, Beaudeau F, Seegers H (2002) Quarter milk somatic cell count in infected dairy cows: a meta-analysis. Vet Res 33: 335-357.

Halasa T, Huijps K, Østerås O, Hogeveen H (2007) Economic effects of bovine mastitis and mastitis management: a review. Vet Quart 29: 18-31.

Haveri M, Taponen S, Vuopio-Varkila J, Salmenlinna S, Pyorala S (2005) Bacterial genotype affects the manifestation and persistence of bovine Staphylococcus aureus intramammary infection. J Clin Microbiol 43: 959-961.

Hillerton JE (1999) Redefining mastitis based on somatic cell count. IDF Bulletin 345: 4-6.

Hogan JS, Gonzalez RN, Harmon RJ, Nickerson SC, Oliver SP, Pankey JW, Smith KL (1999) Laboratory handbook on bovine mastitis, revised ed., National Mastitis Council, Madison.

Hovinen M, Siivonen J, Taponen S, Hänninen L, Pastell M, Aisla AM, Pyörälä S (2008) Detection of clinical mastitis with the help of a thermal camera. J Dairy Sci 91: 4592-4598.

Jasper DE (1977) Mycoplasma and mycoplasma mastitis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 170: 1167-1172.

Lam TJ, Schukken YH, Van Vliet JH, Grommers FJ, Tielen MJ, Brand A (1997) Effect of natural infection with minor pathogens on susceptibility to natural infection with major pathogens in the bovine mammary gland. Am J Vet Res 58: 17-22.

Littell RC, Milliken GA, Stroup WW, Wolfinger RD, Schabenberger O (2006) SAS for mixed models. 2nd ed., SAS institute, Cary.

Madouasse A, Browne WJ, Huxley JN, Toni F, Bradley AJ, Green MJ (2012) Risk factors for a high somatic cell count at the first milk recording in a large sample of UK dairy herds. J Dairy Sci 95: 1873-1884.

McAuliffe L, Ellis RJ, Lawes JR, Ayling RD, Nicholas RA (2005) 16S rDNA PCR and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; a single generic test for detecting and differentiating Mycoplasma species. J Med Microbiol 54: 731-739.

McGavin MD, Zachary JF (2007) Pathologic basis of veterinary disease, 4th ed., Elsevier Mosby, St. Louis.

Ott SL, Novak PR (2001) Association of herd productivity and bulk-tank somatic cell counts in US dairy herds in 1996. J Am Vet Med Assoc 218: 1325-1330.

Pedersen LH, Aalbaek B, Røntved CM, Ingvartsen KL, Sorensen NS, Heegaard PM, Jensen HE (2003) Early pathogenesis and inflammatory response in experimental bovine mastitis due to Streptococcus uberis. J Comp Pathol 128: 156-164.

Pezeshki A, Stordeur P, Wallemacq H, Schynts F, Stevens M, Boutet P, Peelman LJ, De Spiegeleer B, Duchateau L, Bureau F, Burvenich C (2011) Variation of inflammatory dynamics and mediators in primiparous cows after intramammary challenge with Escherichia coli. Vet Res 42: 15.

Polat B, Colak A, Cengiz M, Yanmaz LE, Oral H, Bastan A, Kaya S, Hayirli A (2010) Sensitivity and specificity of infrared thermography in detection of subclinical mastitis in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 93: 3525-3532.

Pyorala S, Taponen S (2009) Coagulase-negative staphylococci-emerging mastitis pathogens. Vet Microbiol 134: 3-8.

Radostits OM, Gay CC, Hinchcliff KW, Constable PD (2007) Veterinary Medicine: A textbook of the diseases of cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and goats. 10th ed., Saunders Company, London.

Reents R, Jamrozik J, Schaeffer LR, Dekkers JCM (1995) Estimation of genetic parameters for test day records of somatic cell score. J Dairy Sci 78: 2847-2857.

Regulation EC (2004) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 29, 2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin. Offic J L Counc Eur Communities 139: 55.

Ruegg PL, Reinemann DJ (2002) Milk quality and mastitis tests. Bovine Pract 36: 41-54.

Schukken YH, Wilson DJ, Welcome F, Garrison-Tikofsky L, Gonzalez RN (2003) Monitoring udder health and milk quality using somatic cell counts. Vet Res 34: 579-596.

Schwarz D, Diesterbeck US, Failing K, Konig S, Brugemann K, Zschock M, Wolter W, Czerny CP (2010) Somatic cell counts and bacteriological status in quarter foremilk samples of cows in Hesse, Germany-a longitudinal study. J Dairy Sci 93: 5716-5728.

Scott SL, Schaefer AL, Tong AK, Lacasse P (2000) Use of infrared thermography for early detection of mastitis in dairy cows. Can J Anim Sci 80: 764-765.

Sears PM, Smith BS, Englisch PB, Herer PS, Gonzalez RN (1990) Shedding pattern of Staphylococcus aureus from bovine intramammary infections. J Dairy Sci 73: 2785-2789.

Sgorbini M, Bonelli F, Fratini F, Sbrana A, Brombin M, Meucci V, Corazza M, Ebani V, Bertelloni F, Turchi B, Gatta D, Cerri D (2014) Mastitis in dairy cattle: a comparison of some screening tests and bacteriology. Large Anim Rev 20: 9-16.

Stelletta C, Gianesella M, Vencato J, Fiore E, Morgante M (2012) Thermographic Applications in Veterinary Medicine. In: Prakash RV (ed) Infrared Thermography. In Tech, China, pp 117-140.

Sutra L, Poutrel B (1994) Virulence factors involved in the pathogenesis of bovine intramammary infections due to Staphylococcus aureus. J Med Microbiol 40: 79-89.

Viguier C, Arora S, Gilmartin N, Welbeck K, O’Kennedy R (2009) Mastitis detection: current trends and future perspectives. Trends Biotechnol 27: 486-493.

Watts JL (1988) Etiological agents of bovine mastitis. Vet Microbiol 16: 41-66.

Zhao X, Lacasse P (2008) Mammary tissue damage during bovine mastitis: causes and control. J Anim Sci 86 (Suppl): 57-65.

Polish Journal of Veterinary Sciences

The Journal of Committee of Veterinary Sciences of Polish Academy of Sciences and University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn

Journal Information

IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.697
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.773

CiteScore 2016: 0.73

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.315
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.486

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 286 253 15
PDF Downloads 177 167 12