Mycoplasma mastitis: An emerging global disease that could severely affect dairy cows

A recent survey conducted by the US National Animal Health Monitoring Service (NAHMS) estimated that during any single year, 20 percent of more than 500 cow herds in the US will have mycoplasma mastitis.

Mycoplasma is a highly contagious organism that can infect bovine mammary glands, which can result in a severe case of mastitis, or inflammation due to infection, that can be quickly transmitted to other cows and cause significant herd outbreaks.

Research conducted by Larry Fox, professor at Washington State University, shows that the US Pacific Northwest experience a five times increase in clinical mycoplasma mastitis over a two to three year period in the mid-2000s.

More recently, the disease has also began to emerge in other countries like Canada, England, New Zealand, and Belgium.

Mastitis is said to cost the US dairy industry billions of dollars every year. Fox claims that this might be the same for dairy producers in Europe.

Once there are signs of infection on the cows’ mammary glands, Fox advises the use of penicillin antibiotics to mitigate the damage and to develop a mastitis control program that fits the farm’s operation to keep the disease from happening again.

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