More than 100 different microorganisms are known to cause intramammary infections in dairy cows, notes Joe Hogan, Ohio State University animal science professor.

So to try to understand these pathogens in an organized fashion, over the years, researchers have grouped these organisms into three major groups: contagious pathogens, environmental pathogens and the coagulase-negative staphylococci, occasionally referred to as skin flora opportunists.

The challenge is that controlling these pathogens requires different methods and tactics for each group. And as current and future regulations affect bulk tank somatic cell counts, it’s essential you understand the differences between the pathogens and how to best manage against them.

In his paper, “Mastitis: Mysteries, Mischief and Mistakes”, Hogan outlines the current knowledge of these pathogen groups and identifies potential areas of research likely to help further increase mastitis control on dairy farms.

The paper was presented at the Penn State Nutrition Conference last month.