Mastitis overview and general control Measures

Mastitis is the most important and expensive disease of dairy industry. Mastitis comes from Greek word ” Mastos” for breast “itis “, a word ending denoting inflammation.

By symptoms, disease is characterized by pain, heat redness and swelling while under microscope injured tissue is characterized by one or more of following ;accumulation of blood ,a stopping of blood flow, changes in the blood and walls of the small blood vessels and by various exudations or infiltration of white blood cells

White blood cells play important role in order to engulf bacteria at the site of action i.e udder .Thus these Leukocytes play important role in maintaining health of udder

Following table show the interpretation of leukocytes in case of presence or absence  of mastitis



Reading / Number of leukocytes per millimeter of milk



Less than 200,000



150,000-500,000      Alert



400,000-1.5 million      Alarm



800,000-5 million      Alarm



Over 5 million      Alarm



Mastitis results in severe economic losses from reduced milk production, treatment cost, increased labor, milk withheld following treatment and premature culling. Globally, the losses due to mastitis amount to about 53 billon dollars annually


It is recognized that if this disease is diagnosed in early stages, the greater portion of this loss can be avoided. This disease is characterized by physical, chemical and bacteriological changes in the milk and pathological changes in the glandular tissue of the udder. The most important changes in the milk include discoloration, presence of clots and presence of large number of leukocytes.


General control measures are important in treatment of mastitis.


The first basic principle is that mastitis cannot be eliminated from herd .We can prevent it but cannot avoid it 100 %


Antibiotic therapy is a conventional treatment , although alternatives including herbal and homeopathic approaches assume some importance.

The timely and early  treatment of mastitis gives better results


All dairy animals usually have a period of 6-10 weeks prior to calving (usually annually) as a dry or resting period, a non-lactating phase. At this time, the cow remains susceptible to new intra-mammary infections, especially soon after the ‘drying off’ or cessation of milking, and around calving


The incidence of disease is higher in dry period rather than lactation period .The dry cow treatment with antibiotics showed a reduction in the rate of new intra-mammary infections in the dry period and higher rate of eliminating infections.


Early diagnosis of sub-clinical mastitis with reliable tests facilitates successful treatment and control

The fundamental principle of mastitis control is that the disease is controlled by either decreasing the exposure of the teat to potential pathogens or by increasing resistance of dairy animals to infection. The teat canal remains open up to 2-3 hours after milking to resume its normal confirmation. This is the reason for providing feed and water immediately after milking to encourage animals to remain standing


Effective  udder washing and drying, post-milking teat dip and drying, inter-cow hand-washing, and disinfection in the milking routine decrease risk of  incidence


Any animal positive for sub-clinical mastitis should be separated.


The first streaks of milk should be observed for presence of clots, streaks of blood, milk may be off color or watery, all these  indicate presence of mastitis.


The milker’s hand should be properly washed, dried and cleaned so that chances of spread of disease can be minimized.

All milking utensils should also be clean and dry.

The dung and urine should be removed immediately, as these are constant source of infections at the farm.

Any bad odor within the animal shed indicates the infection.

Lice, flies and ticks control strategies should be adapted.

These are often vectors and carriers of the disease.

Cracks and crevices at the farm are the breeding sites of ticks.


Prevention of Mastitis

Prevention of Mastitis

Further valuable information will be shared in future to address each and every thing in detail

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