Curative measures : Mastitis

Curative measures-There is a vast range of curative methods that may be used as an alternative to antibiotics: homoeopathy, phytotherapy, etc. The advantage of homoeopathy over antibiotics is that milking may be continued. The other alternative products used must not go in the bulk milk because tests for detecting antibiotics in milk may react positively to certain products like some essential oils. When a treatment is being administered it is important to modify other  practices:

  •  Infected cows must be fed prudently. Concentrates must be reduced and extra fibres and laxatives must be included.
  • Avoid exposing infected animals to cold and draughts;
  • Milk gently by hand 3 to 6 times a day. In all cases, it is important to immediately contact a veterinarian if there is no rapid improvement.

Preventive homoeopathic treatments are administered using nosodes on an entire herd rather than on individual animals. Nosodes are fragments of pathogenic cells that increase the immune response. Nosode preparation is established according to the species of bacteria causing the problem in the herd.

An alternative to nosodes that is particularly effective for subclinical mastitis is to use in conjunction
homoeopathic remedies that have proven effective against mammary gland afflictions. Common preparations include Belladonna, Bryonia and Urtica Urens; Phytolacca and Sulphur, Silicea and Carbo vegetabilis. Homoeopathic treatments are administered through the mucous membrane. Homoeopathy is less effective when the infection is caused by injury to the teat.

a. Udder infusion It is convenient and efficient. Disposable tubes with water-soluble ointment base need to be used. Emptying of the udder is essential before infusion. For an animal with clinical mastitis manual removal of congestion in the gland and inflammatory debris from the duct system should be done.

b. Parental treatment is advisable. In supportive therapy large quantity of isotonic fluid with glucose, the antihistaminic drug is recommended. Before antibiotic therapy, the sensitivity of the pathogens to particular antibiotics should be carried out.

c. The use of preparations containing disinfecting ingredients and added emollients is effective which promote the healing of teat lesions and prevent new infections. Glycerin (up to 10%) and lanolin ( up to 3 %) are used as emollients.

d. lodophors are important teat dips. Application of preparations containing 3000-5000 mg available iodine per kg, depending on the glycerin concentration, leads to a reduction in bacterial numbers.

e. Culling of cows with therapy-resistant udder diseases considerably reduces the risk of infection for the other animals. To improve the situation of udder health in a herd it is essential to ensure that exclusively healthy animals are used as herd replacements.

f. If machine milking is practised then rinsing of the teat cups and dipping them in the disinfectant wash water between cows, by dipping a pair of each cluster in turn or hot water (170- 180) for 10 sec. is effective. The backflushing of the milking tube and cups with cold water for about 15 minutes should be done. Milking machine pressure should be 37.5 cm Hg. Pulsation rate should be 40/minute.

The estrogenic compound in foods should be reduced. Young animals should be milked before older. The newly introduced animal should be milked separately. Non-antibiotic control Although we are concerned with alternative methods of mastitis control, it is worth mentioning some of the disadvantages of the currently recommended methods of disease control which necessitate the consideration of alternatives. Intramammary antibiotics are administered after clinical mastitis has been diagnosed, and although in many cases they are very effective and reduce the severity and duration of the disease, at least 5 d milk yield from the cow must be discarded because of antibiotic contamination.

Staphylococcal infections often result in a chronic subclinical disease, which causes a permanently elevated polymorphonuclear leucocyte (PMN) count in the milk, considerable loss of milk yield, and continual excretion of bacteria which can infect other cows. This condition is very resistant to antibiotic therapy with a bacteriological cure rate often as low as 15%.

There are two forms of control not involving antibiotics which are valuable or potentially so. The most obvious and potentially the most effective method is to stop organisms from gaining entry to the udder.
If this fails the next option for control is to inhibit or prevent bacterial multiplication by utilizing the defence mechanisms of the udder, so reducing the duration and severity of the disease.

The teat is tightly sealed in the inter milking period, and the keratinous lining of the teat duct contains antimicrobial basic proteins and fatty acids which may kill bacteria entering the teat canal. With very
few exceptions the transmission of infection between cows and quarters occurs during milking, via the milker, udder cloths or the milking machine. Udders should be effectively washed before milking with a mild disinfectant and dried with a disposable paper towel. This reduces the transmission of bacteria from teats which have colonized orifices or lesions or have acquired contamination of the surface between milkings.

A small quantity of milk should be drawn from each quarter or look for clinical signs of new infection. This identifies cows, which are a potential source of new infection. Extreme care needs to be exercised at this point since contaminated milker’s hands or gloves are an excellent way of transferring bacteria not only from quarter to quarter in the same cow but between cows. The milking machine clusters can be disinfected between each cow to reduce further the chance of lateral spread, because of cost and time this is rarely practised, and at best the clusters are disinfected only after a known infected cow has been milked. Dipping of the teats in a mild disinfectant is widely practised and reduces teat-end colonization by killing organisms which have contaminated the teat at milking..

The milking machine is another important vector in the spread of disease within a cow and between cows. One problem of milking machines is that milk from each quarter is mixed in the claw piece of the machine immediately after withdrawal from the udder and each teat can become bathed in milk from the other three’quarters~ Vacuum fluctuations in the system can cause an impact mechanism, which results in the bacteria being jetted through the teat canal during milking. Various antimicrobial systems exit in the bovine udder, but with certain notable exceptions, they are not very efficient. A large proportion of penetrations of bacteria result in multiplication; the consequent changes in the udder and milk constituting mastitis.

It is accepted that perhaps the most important defence mechanism of the udder is the PMN. These cells are not present in the healthy udder to protect it from infection but, following bacteria multiplication, they generally migrate in large numbers into the milk. The future may offer techniques which manipulate and improve the existing PMN defence mechanism of the udder to ensure a more rapid and complete kill of the bacteria which are already growing in the udder. These options would also have the benefit of not requiring the day-to-day attention of the farmer although they will not remove the need for good husbandry and hygienic milk production methods.




  • Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Ela, Old Goa, Goa