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Treatment of clinical mastitis in dairy cattle
  1. James Breen, BVSc, PhD, DCHP, MRCVS
  1. Nottingham Veterinary School, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, Dr Breen is also affiliated with QMMS Ltd (Wells) and the Orchard Veterinary Group (Glastonbury), e-mail:

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THE treatment of clinical mastitis in lactating dairy cows continues to be a subject of debate, fuelled in part by often disappointing cure rates despite intensive antimicrobial therapy, but also against the backdrop of increased pressure on the dairy industry to reduce the amount of antimicrobials used. Dutch research in nearly 100 dairy herds over several years has reported that almost 70 per cent of animal-defined daily doses (ADDD) of antimicrobials were related to udder health, with 24 per cent of ADDDs for clinical mastitis alone (Kuipers and others 2016).

While the focus must always be on the prevention and control of new intramammary infections, approaches to the treatment of clinical cases are important to optimise cure and minimise recurrent clinical episodes. Perhaps what is less well understood is compliance among the profession with current guidelines on treatment, and demographic factors that may influence individual veterinary advisers when prescribing treatment for clinical mastitis. A paper by Persson Waller and others (2016), which is summarised on p 240 of this issue of Veterinary Record, describes veterinary practitioners' approaches to the treatment of clinical mastitis in Sweden and presents findings on the uptake of specific guidelines regarding mastitis treatment. While these treatment decisions cannot in themselves be taken as evidence for those decisions, the work provides insight to the drivers for mastitis treatment decisions, including the use of bacteriology and product selection, as well as interesting demographic factors.

The use of a bacteriological diagnosis in each case of clinical mastitis to inform the treatment decision is often regarded as an important step, but this can be impractical in the field, where the turnaround time for laboratory results is too long. In recent times, practices have made use of ‘in-house’ laboratories …

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