- Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland (udder of milk-giving gland) of animals, usually caused by bacteria. Staphylococcus spp., Corynebacterium spp., Streptococcus spp., or coliforms cause over 95% of all cases. Mastitis is usually characterized as clinical when symptoms are present or subclinical symptoms appear periodically. In the latter case, the gland is still infected during periods when no symptoms are present. The subclinical type will usually reduce total milk production by at least 25%. Causes, though varied are most commonly rough treatment and unclean milking practices. Several diseases will cause a decrease in the production or appearance of milk.
- Regardless of cause, the symptoms of all types of mastitis are heat, pain, and swelling of the udder. Usually you will note some discoloration of the tissue and abnormal milk. The infected udder will change in color from slightly more pink to a bright red, or to a black and cold udder, indicating gangrenous mastitis. Gangrenous mastitis usually kills the doe and the udder is always destroyed even if she recovers. The milk from an infected udder will vary in color, texture, and thickness depending on the type of organism involved. Milk may be almost normal in all respects, or may be watery and pale, dark yellow and thick, chunky and greenish, or bloody. Almost any combination can occur.
- The California Mastitis Test (CMT) is commercially available in most countries and has been recommended as a good test for subclinical mastitis. You should be cautious in using the CMT because many normal, healthy goats will show a milk reaction to this test. Very marked reactions do indicate mastitis problems, however.
- Laboratory culture or growth of the bacteria causing the mastitis is the best way to determine the exact diagnosis. Antibiotic sensitivity tests also can be run to determine the correct antibiotics to use.
- Injury to the udder by boards or posts can cause mastitis, as can fighting between goats. Trauma or rough handling when hand milking can injure the udder and cause mastitis. Milking machines require extreme care and caution: improperly adjusted or dirty machines will cause mastitis. If you suspect a machine malfunction, it should be checked and serviced by a qualified technician.
- Several products are almost universally available for intramammary infusion (to be put into the teat). These products are antibiotics or combination of antibiotics in a 10 to 15 cc dose and are packaged in a plastic throwaway tube to inject into the teat. When using one of these products, always wash the teat end with soap and water and wipe with alcohol before sticking the applicator into the teat. You should not reuse applicator or divide a dose between two teats (see Techniques)
Gangrenous mastitis; hard, black, cold udder;
may drip blood-tinged liquid. The tissues are dead and will fall off.
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