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Immunity and Mastitis in cattle: Why vaccination is so important?

In this entry, we analyze which are the main beneficial effects that vaccination against mastitis in cattle can provide to your dairy farms. In previous posts, we stressed the importance of knowing which are the main pathogens associated with bovine mastitis and now we’ll focus on reviewing the list of actions and measures that can help us to control these pathogens.


9 Measures for preventing Mastitis in dairy cows


Then, why Mastitis vaccination is so important ?

Along with all the above-mentioned classic measures of control, we have added another measure: vaccination.

A review of the literature has shown benefits in the use of protective vaccines against S. aureus or E. coli. The effect of vaccination is seen in the infographic above.


Taking into account the difficulties we have when facing agents such as S. aureus or E. coli due to their poor response to antibiotic treatments, prevention through proper vaccination plus the above-mentioned measures would be of great importance.

In the case of mastitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus, dairy cows are the reservoirs of the bacteria. Results for antibiotic therapy are poor when the bacteria are found in the deepest udder tissue (Ma et al., 2004).

Authors such as Blowey et al (1995), conducting a literature review of treatments with Cloxacillin, showed cure rates of mastitis caused by S. aureus of 24% of clinical bovine mastitis cases and 40% for sub-clinical cases. The highest rate of therapy was during drying (60%), and that is why the treatment of choice for this bacterium is during drying.

The low cure rate could be attributed to the ability of bacteria to survive the treatment when it is found intracellularly in epithelial cells or macrophages (Hensen et al., 2000; Herbet et al 2000).

With regard to E. coli bovine mastitis cases, according to the study by Sandholm et al (1995), antibiotic therapy would have little effect on improving symptoms caused by the bacterium.

That is because these symptoms are, more than anything, caused by the bacterium’s endotoxin. Vaccination aims to improve and enhance the immune system against a specific antigen.


Benefits of protective vaccines against S. aureus  or  E. coli

In the case of vaccines against mastitis, what is sought is an adequate arrival of neutrophils to the place where the pathogenic agent is found and with the appropriate amount of immunoglobulins, opsonization and the subsequent phagocytosis occur.

In addition, antibodies generated by vaccination, may also have an important role in neutralizing toxins, interfering with the adhesion mechanisms of bacteria and inducing the bacterial lysis.

A review of the literature has shown benefits in the use of protective vaccines against S. aureus or E. coli. The effects of vaccination are the following:

  • 1. Reduction in the severity and duration of symptoms of coliform mastitis.
  • 2. Decrease in the rate of infections.
  • 3. Decrease in antibiotic use and its possible occurrence as residues in milk.
  • 4. Decrease in somatic cell counts and increases in daily production of milk.

Stay tuned! Next week we will share with you some experiences using immunization trough vaccination!


Content originally created for “STARTVAC Library No. 1”.

Author: Marcelo Chaffer.

Atlantic Veterinary College | Prince Edward Island University | Canada.



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