European Mastitis Panel calls for harmonization of mastitis diagnosis in dairy cattle

THE NETHERLANDS - Harmonization of diagnostic procedures of mastitis (udder infection) in dairy cattle is much needed. This was one of the conclusions drawn at the 2nd annual meeting of the European Mastitis Panel, where an international expert group convened to exchange experience and knowledge about strategies for optimizing udder health.
calendar icon 9 June 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

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The two-day meeting, staged in Salzwedel, Germany from April 16-17, 2009, was attended by 21 experts from 10 European countries and was hosted by Prof. Volker Krömker, an expert in dairy sciences from the University of Applied Science and Art in Hannover, Germany. The primary aim of the meeting - the only dedicated platform in Europe for mastitis experts - was to exchange the latest scientific information on mastitis between European countries as well as to improve its diagnosis and control. These efforts should ultimately result in improved udder health of dairy cattle, cost savings for the farmer and guaranteed milk quality and food safety for the consumer.

From the presentations it became clear that the laboratory procedures and interpretation of results are different between countries. “In Europe we all appear to experience similar problems, but the diagnostic framework and the solutions for mastitis control are often quite different. These are areas where we can learn from each other,” concluded Jantijn Swinkels, DVM and Global Technical Lead Pharmaceuticals for Ruminants at Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.

In several presentations, examples were presented on how mastitis is diagnosed, how on farms udder health problems are managed, and the research that is being performed in Germany.

Dr. Reinhard Tschischkale of a private mastitis laboratory in Wunstorf (Germany) that works nationwide on the identification of mastitis pathogens, presented on examinations of over 200,000 milk samples that were collected in 2008. The laboratory performs all bacteriogical examinations and is able to deliver results within 24 hours. These are then used as the basis for daily telephone consultations with farmers and veterinarians, whereas also farm visits and consultations are conducted in the northern part of Germany.

Dr. Alexandra Koch of the Saxony-Anhalt Animal Health Service in Magdeburg (Germany) presented a computer-based udder health program called “SESAM”, which is used on large farms in the region in order to improve the udder health. The SESAM program is based on the 10-Point Mastitis Program from the US National Mastitis Council, but is more farm-specific and more detailed. The project is run as an interdisciplinary collaboration, with Dr. Koch’s team working closely together with scientific institutions specializing in udder health, metabolism, and animal feed as well as with experts in milking technology.

Dr. Holm Zerbe of the University of Munich (Germany) presented research findings on udder immunology. His group has demonstrated that the immune response to an E. coli infection differs from infection with S. aureus because the latter does not activate an acute immune response in the udder, and therefore does not lead to severe mastitis as observed with E. coli. Using animal models, Zerbe’s group showed a pathogen-dependent difference in the kinetics of induced pathogen receptors and defense molecules. It was concluded that these results could have an impact on future mastitis control programs.

The European Mastitis Panel was founded in 2008 to create an independent, knowledgeable discussion platform that exchanges mastitis-related information between veterinary scientists in Europe. At its annual meetings, European mastitis researchers, practitioners and others related to the field of mastitis are invited to share their views and opinions in order to improve diagnosis and treatment of mastitis.

The European Mastitis Panel is an initiative of and is supported by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, a leading company in udder health solutions.

For more information, see also The 3rd annual meeting of the European Mastitis Panel is scheduled for France in May 2010.

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