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Coliform mastitis is caused by a wide variety of different Gram -ve bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli but also, amongst others, Klebsiella spp and Serratia spp.  Infection usually only results in a mild case of clinical mastitis, though on occasions, particularly in early lactation and when cows are under metabolic stress more severe disease can occur.  In severe cases cows can develop ‘toxic’ shock, become recumbent and may die.  This presentation has become classically associated with coliform mastitis; however it is important to remember that whilst a sick cow with mastitis is most likely affected by a coliform organism, most coliform cases do not result in toxic mastitis.

Any approach to coliform mastitis control needs to take a two pronged approach.  Firstly the producer needs to focus on minimising the risk of intra-mammary infection, but despite best efforts some cows will inevitably become infected and in these animals it is important to mitigate the impact and severity of clinical disease. Mitigating the impact of infection needs to focus on ensuring a ‘fit’ and healthy cow able to respond to intra-mammary challenge.  This can, in part, be achieved by minimising negative energy balance and ensuring adequate levels of key micro-nutrients such as vitamin E and Selenium and there may also be a role for vaccination and this is discussed in more detail in the technical note.

Complete Technical Note

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