A retrospective case control study of farm level risk factors for toxic mastitis was carried out in November and December 1996. Twenty-six farms from mid-Somerset were visited: 13 case farms (had had a cow with toxic mastitis in the previous year) and 13 geographically matched controls (no case of toxic mastitis). The farmers were interviewed and the buildings were examined. Information was collected on the type and quality of housing, usual milking routines, milk quality and mastitis prevalence in the previous year. All the data were collected on to pretested recording sheets and loaded into a database. Simple and complex analysis was done. The following variable were significantly (P<0.05) associated with an increased risk of toxic mastitis in the simple analysis: housing cows in October rather than November; a low number of calving boxes per cow; a high proportion of cows with intermediate body condition and low herd bulk milk somatic cell counts (HBMSCC). In the final model low HBMSCC and a high proportion of cows with intermediate body condition remained significant. The authors conclude that, despite the small size sample, the results of this study are consistent, plausible and support the information from previous experimental and observational studies about the role of somatic cell counts in toxic mastitis.
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