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CONVERSATIONS By Gary Neubauer, DVM ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT TREATING MASTITIS WITH A BACTERIOLOGICAL CURE IN MIND When you come across clinical mastitis while forestrip- ping a cow, what do you do? More important, what do your milkers or parlor managers do? And what does your veterinarian think you do? How you address potential mastitis infection can be different for each cow. But it should be the same for you, your employees and your veterinarian. When people ask me about mastitis, they often ask about which products to use. Treating mastitis isn’t only about the product. It’s about taking all necessary steps to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes. This includes: • Identifying mastitis-causing pathogens • Choosing the right products with demon- strated efficacy against those pathogens • Following the label • Following on-farm mastitis protocols What should I do when I find mastitis? First and foremost, I would examine the cow. If mastitis is not her only problem, you might need a completely different protocol. Second, I would review treatment records to determine whether this is her first mastitis case or whether she is a repeat offender. You should also work with your veterinarian to conduct a bacterial culture to identify which pathogen is causing the infection. If culturing is not possible, consider taking an aseptic sample. You can store this sample in the freezer. And if the cow does not respond to treatment, you can use this sample to identify the mastitis-causing pathogen. Be sure to label the sample with: • Cow identification number • Date • Quarter from which the sample was taken • Mastitis severity score How do I set up just one protocol for so many bacteria? Work with your veterinarian to identify the best solution for each pathogen present on your farm. We will often use a chart on farms to keep decision-making simple. (Figure 1) Mastitis tubes are labeled for the mastitis-causing pathogens they are designed to help treat. Your best chance to battle a pathogen is get- ting the treatment right on the first try. If you don’t culture every case, routine culturing of mastitis cases will allow you to keep a profile of the pathogens affecting your farm over time. Mastitis tubes that have approved, flexible treatment labels allow you to treat mastitis for up to eight days without heightened risk of
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