The immediate goal of mastitis therapy is to make the cow better. But even if her milk appears normal again, a treated animal may not be completely cured.
The result: residual infection that may cause elevated somatic cell counts (SCC) and/or recurring episodes of clinical mastitis. Many dairy producers and their veterinarians find that using on-label extended therapy, defined as administering intramammary mastitis treatment for up to eight days, offers a better chance for a complete cure.
"The goal of mastitis treatment should be to achieve a bacteriological cure, not just a clinical cure,” says Jorge Noricumbo-Saenz, quality milk manager for Pfizer Animal Health, based in Visalia, Calif.
"If you treat for the entire extended-therapy protocol, as established with your veterinarian, the cow has less chance for relapse, and is much more likely to remain cured and optimally productive throughout the remainder of her lactation,” he says.
Noricumbo-Saenz points out that, over time, extended therapy is more likely to produce:
- higher permanent cure rates;
- reduced spread of infection by contagious mastitis pathogens, thereby achieving a bacteriological cure; and
- lower herd SCCs and bacteria counts.
When choosing an extended-therapy protocol, it's important to work with a veterinarian to diagnose the causative pathogen and select the appropriate antibiotic. A veterinarian's expertise is also required to determine milk and meat withholding periods.
Noricumbo-Saenz also advises producers to complete the entire course of therapy using just one antibiotic.
"In the long run, extended therapy is the best thing we can do for the cow as well as for achieving higher-quality milk,” he says.
Source: Pfizer Animal Health
Rational Approaches to Making Treatment Decisions on the Farm
- April 2010