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Bovine Diagnostics

Diagnostic Options

Several diagnostic testing options are available when a mastitis problem has been identified. Consider your options based on the needs of your dairy farm, then work with your herd veterinarian to develop a mastitis control program that fits your specific operation.

Overview of Testing Methods

Test

Identification of mastitic milk

Identification of pathogen

Fast

Reliability

Test location

Milk sample type

California Mastitis Test

Farm

Fresh milk

Somatic cell count

Lab

Fresh milk

ELISA

Lab

Fresh, Frozen, Preserved

Bacterial culture

Lab

Fresh

Multiplex PCR

✓✓

Lab

Fresh, Frozen, Preserved


Test

Principle

California Mastitis Test

Detergent lyses white blood cells (leucocytes) in milk sample, resulting in viscosity of the fluid. This is a measure for severity of infection.

Somatic Cell Count

Counting of leucocytes in a milk sample, either under a microscope or using automated cell counting systems (flow cytometry).

ELISA

Detects antibodies instead of pathogen; infection may no longer be active.

Bacterial culture

Milk sample is streaked on culture plates. Viable pathogens form colonies that are counted.

Multiplex PCR

Amplification and detection of nucleic acid of mastitis-causing pathogens. Screening for multiple pathogens in one run. Indicates active infection. Pathogens do not need to be viable.

Taking a clean sample is critical to a successful pathogen diagnosis. Follow these steps:

Aseptic Milk Sampling Procedure

Bovine Diagnostics

Photo use with permission from Heidi Hiitiö, University of Helsinki

  1. Clean the udder from visible dirt
  2. Prevent kicking
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Clean the teat end with 3 clean swabs dipped in 70% alcohol disinfectant
    a. If the teat end is in poor condition,     more cleaning may be needed
  5. Open the milk tube corn and keep it clean in your palm
  6. Milk the sample keeping the tube in horizontal position
  7. Close the cork immediately
  8. Add markings like cow number, quarter and date on the tube
  9. Important: only one quarter to one tube
Bovine Diagnostics

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