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Clinical findings in sheep farms affected by recurrent bacterial mastitis

Small Ruminant Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2009.12.019
  • Mastitis
  • Sheep
  • Infection
  • Medicine


Abstract This study was aimed to investigate the relationships existing between clinical findings and bacterial entities isolated from milk of dairy sheep affected by mastitis. The influence of other parameters on the clinical picture, such as age, nutritional state, breeding conditions, and milking techniques, was also evaluated. All sheep belonged to flocks suffering from serious and repeated outbreaks of infectious mastitis. A total of 2198 Sarda dairy sheep were subjected to a detailed clinical examination, and at least one clinical sign of mastitis was detected in 1666 sheep (75%). Bacteriological examination of milk samples collected from all animals produced 1093 positive results (49.7%). Of bacterial species identified, three accounted for 55.3% of all isolates: Streptococcus uberis (25.6% of positives and 12.7% of total), Staphylococcus epidermidis (16.2% of positives and 8% of total), and Staphylococcus aureus (13.5% of positives and 6.7% of total). Upon investigation of correlations existing among clinical signs and bacterial species responsible for the outbreak, S. uberis showed a statistically significant correlation with serous appearance of milk, presence of clots in secretions, and reactivity of supramammary lymph nodes ( p < 0.05); S. epidermidis showed a statistically significant correlation with presence of pustules and ulcers ( p < 0.05); and S. aureus showed a statistically significant correlation with clinical signs of chronic mastitis: nodules, abscesses, and atrophy ( p < 0.05%). Manual milking techniques were more associated to udder infections than mechanical milking. However, an interesting correlation emerged between presence of S. uberis and mechanical milking with small portable devices. In conclusion, this study revealed interesting and unprecedented correlations among clinical signs, bacterial species isolated from infected milk, and farm management techniques. The results reported here emphasize the primary role played by clinical practice in managing infectious ovine mastitis outbreaks, and strengthen its relevance for recovery of affected flocks.

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