Greetings from I & A lab! The topic of this bulletin is mastitis caused by Coliforms. This bulletin will include some of the clinical symptoms of the infection as well as, some ideas on ways to prevent future outbreaks. I hope you find it interesting and informative.

Coliforms - Mastitis caused by Coliforms is often thought to be a rare occurrence. One that is isolated to only a few cases. This however is not the case and the problem is much more widespread then most Dairymen believe. Some of the signs that an infection may be caused by Coliforms are that the infection is usually confined to one or two quarters. The involved quarters will be swollen, edematous and tender. The infection also will occur very fast. The cow may appear normal at one milking and then be very sick the next. The milk will appear watery or yellowish and contain flakes and/or clots. The infection may also seem to pass quickly. A few days later the cow may seem fine only to have the infection reoccur again a few days or weeks later. Commonly the Dairyman will test for Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Maybe even for Mycoplasma. These test come back negative, but the cows continue this cycle of rapidly becoming sick and then recovering a few days later. If this cycle is not broken the infection may become chronic.

Causes and Prevention - Well, the good news is that you can stop pulling your hair out. The answer may be a very common bacteria belonging to the Coliform group of organism. You have probably heard of E. coli. . This bacteria normally lives in the intestines of all animals. It even does many good things like suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestine. When this normally occurring bacteria is allowed to spread unchecked because of dirty conditions in the milking parlor, not washing the teats well, not drying the udders and teats before milking, teat dipping before milking, or letting the cow lay down right after milking, it can turn into a reoccurring problem. The highest risk of new infection is around calving time. This infection can spread throughout your herd by the rubber teat cups or by reusing the same wet and dirty towels to dry the teats. If the dairy uses well water that is another possible source for the bacteria. Mastitis caused by coliforms can almost always be traced back to environmental factors. So that means that providing a clean dry environment for the cows is very important.

If you have any questions about Coliforms or mastitis, please feel free to call and we will be happy to assist you as best we can!