Somatic cells are a mixture of mammary epithelial cells and leukocytes, including lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages. An elevated SCC is the only indicator of a subclinical infection and an SCC of under 250,000 cells/mL is generally regarded as the absence of infection. Milk from cows infected with mastitis is discarded for two reasons. First, industry regulations prohibit any milk from cows treated with antibiotics to be sold for human consumption. Secondly, cows that have a subclinical infection may not receive antibiotic treatment, but the elevated SCC of this milk reduces the overall quality of the bulk tank that the farmer is shipping, potentially resulting in financial and licencing penalties. The SCC limit for bulk tank shipments varies between countries, in Canada it is 500,000 cells/mL, but in other major dairy producing regions it could be as low as 400,000 cells/mL as in the European Union or as high as 700,000 cells/mL as it is in the United States.
The secondary effects of a mastitis infection include reduced milk production and quality as well as the risk of subsequent health issues due to decreased immune function. These effects can be caused either directly by the responsible p...
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... have the majority of clinical cases caused by environmental pathogens.
Gram Positive & Gram Negative Pathogens
Gram positive and negative bacteria differ structurally in that Gram negative bacteria have an impenetrable cell wall. Consequently, the natural antibodies of the immune system are ineffective against these pathogens. Gram negative pathogens also develop resistance to antibiotics faster than Gram positive bacteria, making them more virulent and more harmful. Gram positive infections tend to be chronic; manifesting as long subclinical phases before clinical symptoms flare up, as well as having a slow recovery time. Gram positive bacteria include Staphylococcus aureus, Mycoplasma, and Streptococcus dysgalactia & uberis. Gram negative pathogens include E.coli and Klebsiella spp. and infections caused by these are characterized by very short subclinical phases.
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