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Prevalence and incidence of intramammary infections in lactating dairy goats

Authors: McDougall S, Malcolm D, Prosser CG
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 136-145, May 2014
Publisher: Taylor and Francis


AIM: To determine the prevalence of intramammary infection (IMI) of lactating dairy goats between 0 and 4 days postpartum, the prevalence and incidence rate of new IMI at Weeks 2, 14 and 27 of lactation, and the relationship between herd-level prevalence of IMI and bulk tank somatic cell count (BTSCC).

METHODS: Milk samples were collected from 8% of a herd (total 624 does) from 18 dairy goat herds in the Waikato region of New Zealand, for bacteriology and somatic cell count (SCC) determination, from both glands within 4 days of kidding (Week 0) and again at Weeks 2, 14 and 27. Prevalence of IMI was determined at each time point and incidence rate calculated for Weeks 0–2, 2–14, and 14–27. Greenwood and Reed-Frost models were compared for estimation of the transmission parameter for all pathogens, and for Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS) and Corynebacterium spp. separately.

RESULTS: Bacteria were isolated from 1,122/4,814 (23.3%) glands, with CNS (13.4%) and Corynebacterium spp. (7.3%) being the most common isolates. Prevalence of any IMI increased with stage of lactation, varied among herds, and increased with age (all p<0.05). Incidence rate was 80, 24 and 7 new IMI/10,000 gland days for Weeks 0–2, 2–14 and 14–27, respectively. Incidence rate for any IMI increased with age and with the presence of an IMI in the contralateral gland, and varied among herds (p<0.001). The transmission of each pathogen was better modelled assuming contagiousness (Reed-Frost models), than not (Greenwood models).

At gland level, IMI increased SCC at all stages of lactation (p<0.001). The gland prevalence of IMI within herds was positively associated with ln BTSCC at Week 2 (p=0.02), but not Weeks 14 or 27 (p>0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of IMI increased with stage of lactation, but the highest incidence rate of new IMI occurred in early lactation. Models accounting for the contagious nature of infection fitted better than those not accounting for contagiousness. BTSCC was only associated with prevalence of IMI in early lactation.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Reduction of BTSCC in dairy goats may be best achieved by minimising the prevalence and incidence of new IMI in early lactation. Further studies are required to define management factors associated with the between herd, and stage of lactation, effects on prevalence and incidence rate in order to reduce BTSCC throughout lactation.

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