Escherichia coli mastitis

Abnormal mammary gland secretion after Escherichia coli infection (left).

Escherichia coli is a major mastitis pathogen and a well-known cause of clinical mastitis in dairy cows. Ubiquitously present in organic material like manure and bedding, E. coli can reach high concentrations in the cow’s environment. Although being described as generally self-limiting and transient, the infection causes substantial economic losses due to a dramatic reduction in milk yield, or in some cases loss of the animal. The severity of the inflammatory response is strongly determined by host factors which adds another layer of complexity to management of the disease on herd level. A high environmental pressure with strains adapted to the mammary gland, paired with a high number of immune compromised cows can create an outbreak like situation. This article focuses on recent insights in characteristics of the microorganism, host-pathogen interaction, epidemiology, economic impact and strategies for prevention and management of E. coli mastitis.

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