Diagnostic information and knowledge about how various mastitis pathogens behave play critical roles here, too. Cows with chronic Staph. aureus infections, for example, probably will not be cured regardless of treatment and should be culled. Cows with mild or moderate Gram- infections like E. coli probably are on their way to resolving the infection via their own immune defenses by the time clinical signs become evident. These animals probably are best served with supportive therapy and care versus intramammary antibiotic treatment.
When antibiotic therapy is warranted, Tikofsky says more information is available than ever to target that treatment strategically without over-using antibiotics. She cites a recent, large-scale Cornell University study that compared a one-day intramammary treatment with a first-generation cephalosporin antibiotic (cephapirin) to a five-day treatment with a third-generation cephalosporin (ceftiofur). When possible, a first-generation cephalosporin would be preferable for use in food animal medicine because it would compete less with human medicine.
The Cornell researchers found that Gram+ bacteria responded equally as well to the one-day cephapirin treatment as they did to the five-day ceftiofur treatment. Clinical cure (milk and quarter returning to normal) were not different between the treatments.
“This is good news on many fronts,” says Tikofsky. “From a production standpoint, it means lower treatment costs, a faster return to salable milk, and fewer cows in the hospital pen. And on a larger scale, it could potentially reduce on-farm antibiotic use and reserve higher-level drugs for cases in which they truly are needed.”
To learn more about mastitis prevention and treatment, visit BI-Vetmedica.com/Cattle.
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (St. Joseph, MO) is a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation, based in Ridgefield, CT, and a member of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.