A. J. Bradley and M. J. Green

We assessed the incidence of enterobacterial infection of the mammary glands of 629 cows, from six commercial herds in Somerset, during the nonlactating period; samples were collected from all clinical quarters of these cows during the subsequent lactation. A rise in the incidence of intramammary enterobacterial infection was detected between drying off and before calving. Quarters infected with an enterobacterial organism during the dry period were more likely to develop mastitis due to that pathogen than were uninfected quarters. Of all enterobacterial mastitis occurring in the first 100 d of lactation, 52.6% arose in quarters previously infected, during the dry period, with the same strain of bacteria, as identified by DNA fingerprinting using enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus primers. When compared with unsampled controls, quarters sampled during the dry period did not show a higher incidence of infection at calving or of subsequent clinical mastitis. These findings suggest that chronic infections are important in the epidemiology of enterobacterial mastitis and that environmental management during the dry period may greatly impact the incidence of enterobacterial mastitis in the subsequent lactation.

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