JOURNAL ARTICLE

The effect of intramammary infection in early lactation with non-aureus staphylococci in general and Staphylococcus chromogenes specifically on quarter milk somatic cell count and quarter milk yield

D Valckenier, S Piepers, A De Visscher, S De Vliegher
Journal of Dairy Science 2019 October 30
31677845
This longitudinal study aimed to evaluate the impact of subclinical intramammary infection (IMI) with non-aureus staphylococcal (NAS) species in the first 18 d in milk (DIM) on the quarter milk somatic cell count (qSCC) and quarter milk yield (qMY) during the first 4 mo of lactation in Holstein Friesian heifers. Quarter milk samples were collected from 82 heifers from 1 to 4 DIM until 130 DIM on a biweekly (14 d) basis for determination of the qSCC; qMY data were available through the automatic milking systems. The quarter samples collected on the first (1-4 DIM) and second (15-18 DIM) sampling days were used for bacteriological culturing to determine the IMI status. In this study, 324 quarters from 82 heifers were enrolled, of which 68 were NAS-infected at the first sampling day. Only 16 (23.5%) of these quarters were still NAS-infected at the second sampling day, demonstrating the high spontaneous cure rate of these infections shortly after calving; 9 of these 16 cases were infected with the same NAS species. Interestingly, none of the NAS-infected quarters at the first sampling day acquired a new infection with a major pathogen at the second sampling day, whereas 2.3% of the noninfected quarters did. All 102 isolates phenotypically identified as NAS were further identified to the species level. Staphylococcus chromogenes was the most prevalent species on the first (29.4% of all NAS) and second (52.9%) sampling days. Quarters infected with Staph. chromogenes at the first sampling day had a significantly higher qSCC in later lactation than noninfected quarters, whereas this was not true for quarters infected with all other NAS species (i.e., as a group of species). The average daily qMY in the first 4 mo of lactation did not differ between noninfected quarters and quarters infected with Staph. chromogenes or all other NAS species at the first sampling day. Persistently NAS species-infected quarters in the first 18 DIM (i.e., infected with the same NAS species on the first and second sampling days) had the highest qSCC later in lactation, followed by quarters with a new NAS IMI (i.e., noninfected at the first sampling day and infected with NAS at the second sampling day). The qSCC from transiently NAS species-infected quarters (i.e., not infected with the same NAS species at the second sampling day) was not significantly higher in later lactation compared with that in noninfected quarters. The IMI status of quarters in the first 18 DIM, combining culture results at 1 to 4 and 15 to 18 DIM (new, persistent, and transient IMI), was not significantly associated with daily qMY in the first 4 mo after calving. In general, NAS should be considered minor pathogens with no adverse effect on daily qMY in quarters of heifers infected in the first 18 DIM and with a high spontaneous cure rate. Staphylococcus chromogenes was the most prevalent species, causing an increase in qSCC comparable to the level of quarters infected with a major pathogen; Staph. chromogenes caused most infections that persisted through at least the first 18 DIM.

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