Coliform Mastitis 2016

We have seen quite a few coliform grades and coliform clinical mastitis cases this year. E.coli is a very common bug in faeces, and if the udders are contaminated then it can enter the tissue causing a mastitis.The very wet winter/spring we had will have increased the risk of dirty udders.

Generally a coliform grade is due to part of the plant not getting cleaned and sequestering some organic matter and hence allowing the bugs to proliferate, or due to dirty teats contaminating the milk lines. Coliform mastitis rarely causes grades, but there is often a common factor causing both. Thorough plant cleaning (check hot wash temperature, check acid/alkali wash, check all parts reached, check milk cooled quickly) and minimizing udder contamination are critical, but just washing udders may leave a bacterial soup. If they really need washing, they will need drying too with fresh paper towels (not the same dirty rag!) before putting cups on. Often a better, drier option is to trim the tails and address any dirty areas on the farm.

The classic coliform mastitis has a watery milk quality plus a very sick cow as the gram negative bacteria release toxins. We are treating these with anti-inflammatories, injectable antibiotics and fluids. If they do require antibiotics; milk culture and sensitivity have been showing frequent resistance to penicillin and cloxacillin, so other products need to be considered. However, we have also been seeing coliform mastitis that is not associated with a sick cow, and these often do not need treatment with antibiotics as the immune system will generally clear the brief infection.Milk samples are critical for confirming coliform mastitis, and antibiotic sensitivity profiles.
Take home message: If you are grading, or getting a lot of mastitis, or weird mastitis, please contact your vet. Milk samples can tell you what is going on, and we can discuss reducing risk factors on your farm.

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