Epidemiological features of clinical mastitis in dry cows from a three year prospective study are described. Two hundred and seventy-three herds in England and Wales participated in the first year (1980) and 209 and 159 of them continued in the study in the subsequent two years. Clinical mastitis was recorded in 1.5 per cent of cows during the dry period in each of the three years. These cases represented between 3.6 and 4.2 per cent of samples from all clinical cases examined. The incidence of clinical mastitis in dry cows increased during the winter housing period (October to March), a peak occurring at the end of this period. A secondary peak in incidence was recorded in August. Streptococcus uberis was the predominant pathogen. Variations in the monthly incidences of cases associated with the major mastitis pathogens were observed. A greater proportion of cases which occurred during the dry period exhibited systemic signs than of cases which occurred during lactation, with the exception of cases associated with Escherichia coli. The risk of clinical mastitis was apparently higher during the last 30 days of the dry period than during the earlier stages of the dry period.
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