U.S – A recent study conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University (MSU) has uncovered a concerning practice among dairy producers – the overtreatment of cows diagnosed with non-severe cases of clinical mastitis.
This research, supported by a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) Food Safety Challenge Grant, expounds on potential threats to both animal and human health within the dairy industry.
Clinical mastitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the mammary glands in a cow’s udder, is often triggered by bacterial infections, leading to a reduction in both the quantity and quality of milk produced.
MSU researchers delved into non-severe cases of clinical mastitis, examining approximately 50,000 cows across 37 commercial dairy farms in Wisconsin. Their findings raise crucial questions about the duration of treatment for this condition and its implications for animal and human welfare.
The study’s key takeaway emphasizes the importance of adhering to the minimum labeled duration for mastitis treatment drugs during routine treatments. This practice is essential for maintaining the health of both dairy cows and the consumers of dairy products.
The research findings point to an urgent need for reevaluating the treatment duration for mastitis in dairy cows.
The recommendation, unless improved clinical outcomes can be substantiated, is to treat cows using the minimum duration stipulated on product labels, potentially opting for even shorter treatment periods.
Such an approach would not only safeguard animal health but also have far-reaching benefits for human well-being by significantly reducing the release of antimicrobial agents into ecosystems. This reduction, in turn, diminishes the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a growing concern in public health.
In the United States, there are currently five products labeled for the treatment of clinical mastitis. The durations of treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these products range from one day to as long as eight days.
Traditionally, dairy farmers have treated for around five days, believing that they should continue until the visual symptoms of mastitis disappear.
However, previous MSU studies have challenged this practice by revealing that abnormal milk appearance, often associated with inflammation, does not reliably predict critical outcomes such as the presence of bacteria or the likelihood of infection recurrence.