November 10, 2014

(Dan) Hey there folks, welcome to Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I’m really glad that you joined us today. Dr. Brian Lubbers from the Kansas State Diagnostic Laboratories is here and we’re going to talk about mastitis in dairy cows. Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy today’s show.

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(Dan) Hey there folks welcome to Doc Talk. Brian thanks for being here. (Brian) Thank you Dan. (Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Brian Lubbers, and he is a veterinarian and he is the Director of Microbiology for Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Diagnostic Laboratory. And Brian, we’re going to talk about mastitis. And you’ve had some experience with mastitis as a practitioner and as a microbiologist and diagnostician. (Brian) Yep. (Dan) Big problem. (Brian) Yeah. So when we talk about mastitis, it’s really the number one problem we see in dairy cows. By far the most economically important disease in the dairy industry. And when we talk about mastitis and one of the big things is always finding it. And so how do we do that? And I think it’s really important, dairymen that have been in this a long time, they kind of understand this, but really what were talking about is infection of that udder. And so, they’re looking for changes in the milk. There’s some cow side tests that people use, California Mastitis Test is really common. Changes in the somatic cell counts within their herd. They look for all those things. And on our end at the diagnostic lab, one of the big things we do is we do milk culture work. So, we’re taking milk samples from producers and we’re looking for the bacteria that we know that cause mastitis in these herds. (Dan) So when you have mastitis, I’m going to make the assumption that, number one you wind up with sick and possibly dead cows from this, if it gets systemic. Decreased performance. What are some of the things that it costs us? (Brian) Sure. The big cost is actually lost milk production. (Dan) OK. (Brian) There’s been quite a few studies that have shown that as cows get more of an infection, they lose more milk. There’s also veterinary costs, there are drug costs, there are laboratory costs, all of that play into it. But by far and large the biggest cost is the lost production that we see. (Dan) And today, milk prices are extremely high. (Brian) Sure. (Dan) And that’s because we have such a demand and short on cow numbers. But as we’re building this up, you know, keeping those cows healthy, it’s also an animal welfare concern. (Brian) Absolutely. Yeah. And I think the biggest thing is the clinical mastitis so that’s the mastitis that we see from changes in milk, fever, swollen udders, those things. But the bigger losses are actually from the mastitis that isn’t detected. So, the early stage disease where we just don’t see those changes. (Dan) OK. When we start to look at the changes, what takes it from a sub clinical to more of a clinical? Is that more cow dependent, or dairymen dependent? (Brian) It’s really just the progression of the disease. So cows that are just getting an infection in the early stage of the disease maybe we don’t have that change in the milk yet, so we don’t have that clotted milk that the dairymen would actually find during milking and diagnose that cow as having mastitis and then treat that animal. So, that early stage infection… and yeah, you’re right there’s some cow dependent factors. Some cows are able to resist that infection for a longer period of time. So, that sub clinical phase may last a bit longer. Obviously the dairyman has some influence on that. You know, how aggressively are they looking for mastitis? Because the earlier they detect it then we move into that clinical stage. (Dan) Great. Well, we’re gonna have to take a break. When we come back folks, we’re gonna talk more with Dr. Brian Lubber on mastitis and we’ll talk about some of the control strategies that you can use with diagnostics. You’re watching Doc Talk and we’re sure glad that you joined us.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson here at the College of Veterinary Medicine with my friend and colleague Dr. Brian Lubbers, who’s over at the Kansas State Diagnostic Laboratory where he serves as the Director of Microbiology. And we’re talking about mastitis and when we left we were talking about how it can be clinical, sub clinical, but at the end of the day when we’re talking about whether it’s mastitis, calf scours, bovine respiratory disease, it’s control and prevention (Brian) Sure, absolutely. I think with mastitis the big thing, we know it’s control and prevention. It’s about managing the animals both in their environment and in the parlor, those are the big things. But a lot of it is about diagnosing it, and just finding it. And so we kind of mentioned the farmer level, how he diagnoses mastitis and looking for changes in milk. I think a big thing that we really emphasize is having the laboratory diagnosis. Really helps, cause mastitis looks the same whether it’s caused by an E. coli or it’s caused by a staph aureus, which are our two biggest pathogens. The farmer really has no way to tell just by looking at the milk which of those he has. And the treatment and the management for those two pathogens is really quite different. So, at the end of the day, we really have to know what bacteria we have in that herd to really tailor our strategies for that herd. (Dan) So, kind of walk me through what you’re talking about as far as how we take the sample and how we keep up with it. What are some of the management plans or diagnostic programs that you recommend? (Brian) Sure. And there are two types of samples when we talk about managing mastitis in a dairy herd. There’s the individual cow sample and really what we’re looking for with that piece of information is what bacteria does that individual animal have? (Dan) Yep. (Brian) And we can do things in our lab to test different antibiotics to see which ones would be the most effective for that infection. So, that really gives us information about that animal. And then the other sample that we commonly get are bulk tank milk samples. And really what we’re looking for there, we’re trying to get a profile of what bacteria are predominantly in the herd. And again we decide do we have mostly environmental pathogens, mostly contagious pathogens, those kinds of pieces of information to really help us tailor our management strategies. (Dan) Yeah, because if you have something that’s in the environment, it’s gonna be… well they’re both management heavy in preventing but how you’re gonna go about addressing the bedding and different things. (Brian) Sure. Yeah, an environmental pathogen we’d look at managing the bedding, maybe decreasing cow density. If we’re over stocked in our pens, with a contagious pathogen it becomes a lot more about isolating animals or identifying animals and then milking them separately just to keep them away from the non-infected animals. (Dan) Right, so we’re talking about either animal to animal directly, or animal to animal through the environment. (Brian) Yep. Absolutely. (Dan) And then the other thing I think that just kinda.. when we say OK, we’re gonna do a test on the bulk tank, that’s before we go through pasteurization and… (Brian) Absolutely. Yeah, there are multiple public health steps in between the farm and when it gets to the grocery store that help that. But yeah, absolutely. (Dan) Yeah. Well, we’re gonna take a break. When we come back we’ll discuss some of these things that we’ve decided we’re gonna talk about as far as dry off and when they calve and different management techniques to prevent it. (Brian) OK. (Dan) Thanks for being here. And thank you for watching Doc Talk. We’ll be back in a minute.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Brian Lubbers and Brian is the Director of Microbiology at Kansas State University’s Diagnostic Laboratory and we’re talking about mastitis. We’ve talked about some of the pathogens, environmental versus animal to animal. But let’s go back and talk about the individual cow. (Brian) Sure. Absolutely. So, when we talk about individual cow sample, obviously we want it just milk from that one cow. So, the things that we emphasize and I think all diagnostic laboratories kind of have the same set of standards. But the ones that we really focus on with producers, it’s about making sure that that sample comes in as clean as possible because a lot of the bacteria that we see from the environment also cause mastitis. And we want to make sure that what we’re growing is actually coming from the cow. So it’s all about collecting a really clean, we use the word sterile, but it’s a very, very clean sample when it gets to the lab, so that when we grow bacteria there’s no doubt that that’s what’s causing the infection in that animal. (Dan) Work with your veterinarian. (Brian) Absolutely. (Dan) And have them help you with the technique of getting the proper sample. (Brian) Absolutely. And they have all of the equipment to take the samples. They should have the training to be able to help you put protocols in place to collect samples. We actually have kits available if people are interested, we can ship out. They have instructions, sterile containers, all of those good things. But really it’s all about clean samples. (Dan) So, they can get the sample containers by calling the diagnostic lab or emailing the diagnostic lab and get those. But a lot of times most of these dairies are gonna have a veterinarian, somebody they could also call and get those sampling kits from us. (Brian) Yeah. And we always encourage they work with their veterinarian. There are some things about interpreting those results and how… (Dan) Big time. (Brian) …how to design the next step in management and treatment. It’s best to have a veterinarian in the field to help you with it. (Dan) Well, when do you want to take sample from cows? Let’s say we’re gonna do individual cow sampling across our dairy. When are some of the times that we want to be taking samples or that you guys recommend? (Brian) Sure. A lot of it depends on what risk the owner is willing to accept as far as how much sub clinical mastitis they have in their herd. But kind of the baseline that almost all herds will do is clinically affected animal. So, if they get an animal and you’re concerned with mastitis, and you’ve done a lot with mastitis in your herd and you don’t know what bacteria you have, it starts with the clinical animal. So this is an animal we know has mastitis, we’re gonna collect her, see what’s there. And we can do that. The bulk tank samples that we talk about are always a good starting point because that gives you a profile. And that’s something, it’s probably the easiest one to collect because you collect a few bulk tank samples over a period of days and we get a nice picture overall what’s going on. Other than those two, then it really gets in to the risk the owner is willing to accept. We can certainly look at samples, at freshening is probably the next most common. So, right after an animal starts lactating. We like to get that colostrum out, so give it two to three days and then that first milking that we start to collect is a good one. (Dan) Cool. Well let’s take a break. When we come back from break folks we’re gonna discuss more with Dr. Lubbers about some of the management techniques and some of the things in managing mastitis. (Brian) Sounds good. (Dan) Thanks for being here. Thanks for watching Doc Talk. We’ll be back, right after our break.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson, here with Dr. Brian Lubbers and we work at Kansas State University. Dr. Lubbers is the Director of Microbiology over at the Kansas State Diagnostic Laboratory and we’re talking about mastitis and so, it’s a bacterial infection so antibiotics obviously play a role in the treatment. And you also are a pharmacologist not just a diagnostician and a veterinarian, but you know a clinical pharmacologist. So, what are some of the things when you’re talking about antibiotics and the roles and the things that are changing in our industries. (Brian) Sure. We’re starting to see a lot of regulations about not using antibiotics or decreasing the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and I think this is probably as good a disease to illustrate that as any. When we talk about mastitis, it really is about preventing and management and control. And we really are using the antibiotics when those systems break down for some reason. And it’s not a total breakdown, but obviously we can’t control the weather, we can’t control a lot of things. And so we’ll have mastitis and there’s no doubt that every cow that lives long enough will have an episode of mastitis. And so we are using antibiotics. We want to make sure we’re using them appropriately and effectively. In the dairy industry we’re pretty limited as far as the types of antibiotics we can use. Obviously we’re making a food product and we want to make sure that that’s safe as well. But where our lab kind of fits into that is going back to that testing. We can take those specific bacteria from your herd or even from the individual animal in your herd, test it to a panel antibiotics and tell you what should be the most appropriate antibiotic to use. And what we’re seeing is, if we’re gonna use antibiotics in agriculture we want to make sure we’re using them appropriately. And I think that really helps give the farmer and the veterinarian some evidence to say, “Yes, this is the best antibiotic for my herd.” (Dan) And I agree. It’s a little bit different in the dairy industry when you have continuous milking, an opportunity to sample that animal daily or multiple times in the same day. In the beef industry we don’t have that luxury. I look at mastitis and bovine respiratory disease kind of as parallels and we don’t have that opportunity to take a lung sample every day. What a distinct advantage and something the diary industry really ought to take advantage of. The Kansas State Diagnostic Laboratory has been a leader in this and specifically underneath your tutelage. Are there things that you would want dairies or people out there to know about some of the things that you’re offering? (Brian) I think just that we’re here to help with the diagnosis, we’re here to help with the treatment, obviously we’d love to help veterinarians work to help producers. There are two of us that work in this area in the diagnostic lab. We’ve got experience in the field with dairies and mastitis. We’re always willing to come in and help people with that too. And like I said, on the antibiotic side, we really want people to know that when we use them in dairy, we’re using them the right way. (Dan) Absolutely. Well, thanks for joining us today and thanks for the service that you’re providing. Folks, thanks for being with us today on Doc Talk. Remember, always work with your local veterinarian. And if you want to know what Dr. Lubbers and I do here at K-State, you can find us on the web at Thanks for watching Doc Talk, I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University and I’ll see you down the road.

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