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Mastitis Resistance to Enhance Dairy Food Safety

Timms, Leo
Iowa State University
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The overall goals of this project are to collaboratively assess and characterize both host and bacterial mechanisms associated with mastitis susceptibility and resistance, and develop and/or evaluate and apply new technologies to control mastitis and maximize milk quality and dairy food safety.

Specific objectives for this project include:

  1. Characterization of host mechanisms associated with mastitis susceptibility and resistance
  2. Characterization and manipulation of virulence factors of mastitis pathogens for enhancing host defenses
  3. Assessment and application of new technologies that advance mastitis control, milk quality and dairy food safety.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Bovine mastitis is the most costly dairy cattle disease. It results in lost milk production as well as reduces milk quality, processing characteristics, and dairy product quality. 50% of all mammary infections occur during the dry period (early dry period or just around calving or giving birth) and present a great area for new prevention strategies and technologies. The other 50% occur during lactation. Having healthy teat tissue as a first line of defense against mastitis organisms as well as a healthy immune system to fight the infection if it gets into the mammary gland are paramount for mastitis prevention. One aspect of this research is to develop new technology to maintain or enhance teat tissue integrity at calving, during lactation, and even during the dry period. This would improve tissue health and greatly reduce mastitis risks and incidence. Specific technologies to block bacteria from entering the mammary gland, especially in the early and late dry period, could prevent up to 50% of all mastitis. Developing strategies to enhance immunity such as understanding uterocalin could improve immune staut and decrease disease incidence. These all ultimately result in improved animal health and performance as well as enhanced dairy product quality and safety. Finally, mastitis affects ~30% of women and has dramatic effects on milk production and milk quality as possibly child growth rate and development. Adoption of technologies developed in the bovine where there has been far more focused research could lead to improved diagnostics for human mastitis, and ultimately better prevention and treatment strategies.

Objective 1:
A) Test the hypothesis that uterocalin (bLcn2) is protective against mastitis and its negative consequences (joint with Michigan State). Studies will include: characterizing antibacterial / anti-inflammatory properties in vitro, determine in vivo bLcn2 expression and correlate with SCC, and directly test hypothesis using a mouse model with strains that differ in Lcn2 expression. If this works shows uterocalin plays a role in mastitis and the inflammatory process, it\'s potential use in prevention strategies and products could be very beneficial.
B) Summarize and publish 2nd study (joint with Guelph and NY) determining associations between new dry period IMI and udder characteristics. This will provide new strategies and tools for direct implementation for dry period mastitis prevention.
C) Continue to look at teat end and teat skin condition with particular interest at calving and early postpartum during winter and relationships to IMI using an intense observational teat model (half udder design when evaluating teat dips). Continued improvement in teat health and prevention of dehydration and winter effects could greatly reduce mastitis risks.
D) Develop and evaluate better technologies and systems to quantify and more objectively evaluate teat skin condition and changes (joint with Washington State and industry partners). An improved quantifiable methodology to evaluate teat tissue would be beneficial. These methods will include manual teat palpation as well as scientific instruments such as a corneometer.
E) Using bovine mastitis as a model for human mastitis: 3 studies will be conducted. The first study will define prevalence of human mastitis by screening 200 women. Based on this study and prevalence, two further studies will be completed (longitudinally looking biweekly over a 3-month period and cross sectionally within a day) to evaluate the effect of mammary infection on infant growth rate. Growth rates and measurements will be taken at defined time period as well as milk samples for determination of mastitis. Milk samples will be analyzed with a battery of tests used in the bovine to define and validate better, simpler, more cost effective tests for human mastitis.

Objective 3:
A) Continue to develop and/or evaluate dips for prevention of skin cracking and enhancing teat condition during winter. We will conduct as many trials as possible (industry partners with projects, cow availability) but have capability of 6-10/year. Novel compounds will be dipped on 2 teats (half udder) while other half treated with commercial or controls (within cow control).
B)Develop and/or evaluate new dry period teat sealants (internal and external). We will continue to develop as well as investigate other partner products by applying them to teats of dry cows and evaluating persistency of teat protection. Products with proper persistency will then enter a clinical trial (12 month field trial) to evaluate efficacy in mastitis prevention.

Results from all of these will be published in Animal Industry reports, technical papers and journals, extension publications and presented at scientific and extension meetings.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Natural Toxins
Chemical Contaminants