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Mastitis Case Studies

Mastitis Clinical Syndromes


This resource describes the clinical syndromes of mastitis.

Clinical Syndromes Associated with Mastitis

Clinical syndromes are based upon the severity of the inflammatory response. Symptoms include - Redness, Swelling, Heat, Pain, and Loss of Function including decreased production, change in composition, and change in appearance. The clinical syndromes include Peracute, Acute, Subacute, and Chronic. Subclinical mastitis is also discussed.

Peracute Mastitis : Peracute mastitis is characterized by a sudden onset, severe inflammation of the udder, serous milk. Peracute mastitis can lead to agalactia. The inflammation may result from the organism itself, enzymes (from the tissue or the bacteria), toxins (endo or exo), or leukocyte products. The systemic illness is due to septicemia or toxemia, results in fever, anorexia, depression, decreased rumen motility, dehydration, and sometimes death of the cow. Systemic illness often precedes the symptoms manifested in the milk and mammary gland.

Treatment of peracute mastitis includes: stripping the gland frequently to remove organisms and toxins (at 1 or 2 hr intervals), injecting oxytocin to facilitate milk letdown, IV infusion or oral administration of fluids, administration of anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, antipyretics (given systemic), and/or antibiotics (systemic or intramammary).

Acute Mastitis : Acute mastitis is characterized by a sudden onset, moderate to severe inflammation of udder, decreased production, and serous milk/fibrin clots. Systemic signs are similar but less severe than the peracute form.

Treatment of acute mastitis includes: stripping frequently, administration of antibiotics (systemic or intramammary), administration of fluids if needed, and administration of anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, and/or antipyretics.

Subacute Mastitis : Subacute mastitis is characterized by mild inflammation, there may be no visible changes in udder, there are generally small flakes or clots in the milk, and the milk may have an off-color. There are no systemic signs of illness.

Treatment of subacute mastitis includes intramammary antibiotic infusiona and stripping the gland (after oxytocin injection).

Chronic Mastitis : Chronic mastitis may persists in subclinical form for months or years with occasional clinical flareups. Treatment usually involves treating the clinical flareups, or culling the cow from the herd.

Subclinical Mastitis : Subclinical mastitis is the most common form of mastitis. It is 15-40 X more common than clinical mastitis. There is no gross inflammation of the udder, no gross changes in the milk. There is decreased production and decreased milk quality.

Treatment of subclinical mastitis is not economical during lactation, but rather is often done during the dry period with intramammary infusion of antibiotics.
Swollen, gangrenous udder of ewe with mastitis.
Heifer with swollen rear gland with mastitis.
Swollen, gangrenous udder of ewe with mastitis. Brown Swiss heifer with swollen rear gland with mastitis.
Strip cup with milk clots.
Top of a strip cup showing clots and serous milk from a cow with acute mastitis.

Mastitis Case Studies
Mastitis Resources