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Posted: 09/05/2023
Cloe up of dairy cow udder

How Do You Detect and Treat Mastitis?

Mastitis occurs in cows when bacteria leads to an inflamed mammary gland and udder tissue. While bacteria grows, profits – and future production yields – will not. But feeling the effects of mastitis in your herd might be easier than finding it and fixing it. Here we’ll explain how to detect mastitis and then how to treat it when you do find a case.

How to Detect Mastitis

A clinical mastitis case – one that’s producing visibly abnormal milk – can be easier to spot. Yet, according to Merck Veterinary Manual, subclinical cases account for a huge range of 5-75% of a herd. Either way, early detection can help minimize production losses. Here are a few ways to detect the both forms of mastitis cases:

  1. Somatic Cell Counts
    Testing milk for somatic cell counts (SCCs) is one way to detect an infection. The higher SCC, the greater the presence of infection. Some experts suggest reviewing the bulk tank milk SCC score at least every month as a first step in gauging the amount of subclinical mastitis infection in the herd. Milk quality can begin to decrease around an SCC as low as 100,000 though a higher likelihood of infection occurs with an SCC at or above 200,000.

    To find elevated somatic cell counts in bulk tank milk or within individual quarters, try the California Mastitis Somatic Cell Test Kit. Not only does this rapid, cow-side test kit detect clinical and subclinical mastitis in seconds, it can also confirm negative quarters during the just-fresh/early lactation period. It’s a cost-effective and easy-to-use method that can help you identify cases and limit the effects of a full-blown infection.

  2. Milk Quality
    A lower yield and low quality of milk are both signs of Mastitis to watch for. Milk might be visibly abnormal as far as its color, and could also include clots, flakes and/or fat. Catching these signs is important for helping the infected cow and preventing the spread to others. Mastitic milk can transmit the infectious pathogens to calves who drink it. Poor milking hygiene and sanitation measures may also spread mastitis from one animal to another.

  3. Udder Health
    A healthy udder is pink/white or light tan, and tight to the cow’s body with a level floor and level quarters. Mastitic udders may be red and swollen and occur with a fever. The udder can feel warm and even painful as inflammation increases. In most subclinical cases, you won’t see redness, swelling or milk abnormalities, but remember, you most likely will experience lower milk production with a higher SSC.

    Don’t wait for abnormal milk before your act. Another testing option you might consider for early detection is ACCUMAST On-Farm Mastitis Culture Test Kit. The on-farm kit detects 11 different mastitis pathogens using color. It can help producers save time and money, while also improving the health of cows and the quality of milk shipped.

Improve Sanitation to Stop the Spread

Even if you aren’t aware of mastitis cases within your herd, proper sanitation measures and milking hygiene can prevent new cases. Teat sores, udder skin lesions and of course bacteria in the milk itself can transfer to multiple animals who follow through the milking machine. This is why proper maintenance means cleaning and sanitizing between each milking. Don’t stop with the machines: it’s also critical to disinfect teats after milking.

Mastitis products

Top-Selling Mastitis Treatments

Once you do identify mastitis infection, swift treatment is key. And PBS Animal Health carries several reputable treatment products for you to choose from.

First, Go-Dry Penicillin G Procaine Dry Cow Mastitis Treatment is an intramammary infusion for dry cows that comes in a single dose disposable syringe and attacks infections caused by Streptococcus agalactiae. Eventually this product will require a prescription, but we have product labeled for over-the-counter (OTC) still in stock. Please note that this could change at any time.

Looking for other in stock OTC products? ToMORROW (Cephapirin Benzathine) Dry Cow Mastitis Treatment has been shown by extensive clinical studies to effectively treat mastitis – including penicillin-resistant strains. ToMORROW reduces the risk of new infections with time-tested, broad-spectrum control. Need solutions for lactating cows? Try Masti-Clear Penicillin G Procaine Lactating Cow Mastitis Treatment at the first sign of mastitis. Administer Masti-Clear in each infected quarter, and it’s repeatable if needed every 12 hours (for up to 3 total doses). Again, OTC inventory could change at any time.

Spectramast LC Suspension Rx is also for lactating cows, but this product does now require a prescription. Another 5-star reviewed customer favorite, Spectramast also treats each affected quarter, but any repeat treatments should be given with 24-hour intervals. Make note of the 72-hour milk withholding instructions, and as always, read label instructions clearly before administering any treatments.

Treatments Require Prescriptions

Like Go-Dry, once the OTC-labeled product inventory is depleted, and NEW Rx labeling has occurred, ToMORROW and Masti-Clear will require a veterinarian’s prescription. Remember, the Guidance for Industry (GFI) #263 is working to combat antimicrobial resistance with additional veterinary oversight, so many other products already require a prescription. Producers are still able to get antibiotics from our animal pharmacy – all you need is a prescription from your veterinarian and we will handle the rest!

Find and Fix Mastitis Cases with PBS Animal Health

To help your herd, shop our Mastitis Care Center where you’ll find test kits, treatment measures, teat sealants, udder sprays and much more. Whether your products require a prescription or not, you can ALWAYS count on PBS Animal Health for fast, accurate shipping. Shop today! And if you have questions about the Pharmacy or our easy prescription verification process, please contact us at at or call +1 (800) 321-0235.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article, and all other articles by pbsanimalhealth is for informational purposes only. This article may have been prepared from multiple sources at the time it was written and is not intended to be used as a sole source of information in making any purchase or specific product use decision. We recommend you always consult with your attending veterinarian to properly diagnose any health-related condition before initiating any prevention or treatment program. Always read and follow each product’s current label instructions and Warnings before use.

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