British mastitis conference 2019

The 31st British Mastitis Conference was held on 6 November 2019, with a workshop on mastitis data management and control, with emphasis on cow housing on the preceding day. The organisers report that there continues to be a number of non-UK based delegates attending, including the presentation of Knowledge Transfer posters. The conference could not be held without the continuing support of sponsors, with Vétoquinol again offering Platinum sponsorship. The conference is aimed particularly at veterinarians, farm consultants, research scientists, students and academics, in fact at anyone with an interest in dairy farming and mastitis. The organising and scientific committee bring together a mix of researchers and practitioners from both the UK and further afield, and for the 2019 conference speakers were invited from Belgium as well as the UK, with Knowledge Transfer papers presented from India and the UK, many as collaborations with researchers from further afield.

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The first speaker was Colin Mason, Veterinary Surgeon, SRUC Veterinary Services, Dumfries, UK who discussed whether Mycoplasma bovis is an important mastitis vector. Colin advised that Mycoplasma bovis was first recognised as a bovine pathogen in the UK over 40 years ago, being one of 13 Mycoplasma species known to infect cattle. Mycoplasma bovis is considered more pathogenic than many other species and is considered to be the most important mycoplasma mastitis pathogen. But it is also known to cause a complex of disease syndromes besides mastitis, including pneumonia, arthritis, keratoconjunctivitis and otitis media. Mycoplasma species have no cell wall and instead have a cell membrane with variable surface lipoproteins. These are used for organism attachment and elicit variable immune responses from the host. The organism can also produce and survive in biofilms and it is this plus variable evasion of the host’s immune response which permits the organism to persist and cause disease. The experience in the UK has been with sporadic cases occurring. However, there have been some notable exceptions with outbreaks of disease being seen in conjunction with arthritis and pneumonia and such incidents involving larger numbers of cattle. One common clinical sign is that Mycoplasma bovis mastitis cases do not respond well to treatment. For the future, Colin suggested that assessing herd level disease status and maximising animal immunity provide a potential way forward in reducing the disease effects of

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