Prevalence of Mastitis Pathogens in Ragusa, Sicily, from 2000 to 2006

D. Ferguson,*1 G. Azzaro,† M. Gambina,† and G. Licitra†‡

*University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, Kennett Square 19348
†CoRFiLaC, Consorzio Ricerca Filiera Lattiero Casearia, Regione Siciliana, 97100 Ragusa, Italy
‡DACPA, Catania University, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95100 Catania, Italy


The objective of this study was to report the prevalence of intramammary infections (IMI) in Ragusa, Sicily, from milk samples (n = 18,711) collected between October 2000 and June 2006 from 101 dairy herds. Milk samples were collected at 9,747 cow sampling events from 5,285 individual cows. Samples were individual quarter (92.8%) or composite samples (7.2%) from an individual cow. Logistic regression was used to examine the prevalence of IMI at the level of milk sample and at the level of cow, controlling for year and season of collection, type of sample (individual quarter or composite), and type of housing and bedding of the cow at the time of collection. Bedding and housing types were as follows, respectively (number of herd groups): bedding: none (61), organic [51 (straw, 50; sawdust, 1)], and sand (3); housing: bedded pack (37), free stalls (57), tie stalls (4), and paddock (17). Raw prevalence of cow IMI for a sample event was as follows (percentage of cow samples): no growth, 47.4%; coagulase-negative staphylococci, 22.6%; Staphylococcus aureus, 20.6%; other Streptococcus spp., 11.1%; Streptococcus agalactiae, 2.3%; coliform bacteria, 2.9%; and other organisms, 5.8%. Prevalence of IMI differed by bedding type for Staph.aureus (none, 24.5%; organic, 12.7%; sand, 12.3%) and coagulase-negative staphylococci (none, 13.1%; organic, 27.4%; sand, 26.9%) but not for Streptococcus spp. Or coliform bacteria. Prevalence of Streptococcus spp. IMI differed by housing type (tie stalls, 22.2%; bedded pack, 12.8%; free stalls, 8.4%; paddock, 7.1%). Housing was not associated with the prevalence of IMI for other bacteria. Herd monthly prevalence of Staph. aureus and Streptococcus spp. IMI was associated with decreased mean milk production (Staph. aureus, −1.42 kg/d per cow, SEM 0.51; Streptococcus spp., −1.31 kg/d per cow, SEM 0.64) and increased mean linear score (Staph. aureus, 1.01 units/d per cow, SEM 0.16; Streptococcus spp., 0.59 units/d per cow, SEM 0.22). Herds (n = 11) with a mean linear score (MLS) less than 3.3 units had the lowest prevalence of Staph. aureus IMI and monthly MLS and the greatest monthly mean milk production compared with other herds grouped by MLS [MLS 3.31 to 3.99 (n = 20), MLS 4.00 to 4.46 (n = 20), MLS >4.46 (n = 17), and MLS not available (n = 33)]. Implementation of a milk quality program to control gram-positive organisms is important for Ragusa.

Key words: mastitis prevalence, milk microbiology, housing and bedding, dairy cow

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Jim D. Ferguson