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2 Some aspects of dairy goat mastitis closely resemble mastitis in dairy cows; others resemble the disease in sheep. Subclinical mastitis may be defined as mammary gland infection as revealed by laboratory examination of milk samples. Clinical mastitis is characterized by signs of inflammation: swelling, pain, fever temperature and abnormal milk secretion. Clinical cases may be acute, where animals clearly show all the characteristic signs of inflammation and chronic, where the infection remains in a more or less quiescent state with recurrent mild to severe attacks.
3 The most common organism involved in dairy goat mammary disease is Staphylococcus epidermitis which is commonly found on the skin of human hands and the udder skin of goats. This organism produces progressive chronic mastitis very similar to Streptococcus agalactiae infection in dairy cows. Recurrent attacks where the udder is feverish and painful; the quantity of milk secreted is curtailed and the somatic cell count is greatly elevated (see Diagnosis) depending upon the frequency and severity of attacks.
4 Staphylococcus aureus is also an important organism involved in dairy goat mastitis. It is found in both non-clinical and acute mastitis cases. Acute or peracute attacks are quite similar to blue bag, the common form recognized in sheep.
5 Clinical acute cases result when infected udders are injured and they are characterized by severe inflammation which may rapidly become gangrenous, with fever, intoxication and gross changes in milk secretion. The milk secretion of a clinical mastitis flare-up in a gland or the whole udder may become yellow, thick and greatly reduced in quantity.
6 In peracute cases, gangrene quickly develops, often within a few hours and the affected animal may die unless the entire gangrenous gland is surgically removed.
7 Streptococcus agalactiae infection is often reported as a cause of dairy goat mastitis. It and other streptococci are not nearly as prevalent or economically important as they are in dairy cows.
8 Corynebacterium pyogenes mastitis in dairy goats is characterized by the presence of firm round abscesses in the milk producing tissue. The disease is usually progressive; advanced cases of the disease reveal multiple abscess formation with nearly complete destruction of milk secreting tissue.
9 Mycoplasma mastitis is rare in dairy goats. It may be found in animals suffering from systemic mycoplasma infection. This form of mastitis is not rare in countries where contagious caprine pleuropneumonia occurs in goats, but other mycoplasma infections have been suspect in severe cases of arthritis and pleuropneumonia in the United States.
10 Diagnosis Subclinical mastitis in goats may be identified as it is in dairy cattle; by laboratory culture and examination of carefully collected milk samples. However, the common pathogen in goats is usually not considered pathogenic in cows. Laboratories which commonly culture cow milk for mastitis may report goat milk samples infected with Staphylococcus epidermitis as negative. That organism is not coagulase positive or hemolytic on blood agar plate culture.
11 Staphylococcus aureus is readily identified by laboratory culture of milk samples. Corynebacterium pyogenes may not be detected by laboratory examination if udder lesions are few and well isolated by abscess formation.
12 The California Mastitis Test (CMT) and Somatic Cell Counts (SCC) of milk are useful monitoring tools to detect the presence of mastitis in the mammary glands of dairy goats.
13 The California Mastitis Test is a simple rapid means for detecting mammary gland infection and irritation. It has had wide acceptance and use by veterinarians and dairymen in routine mastitis prevention and control programs. There is widespread belief that a higher CMT is normal for goats than for cows. Until that argument is definitely settled, a CMT of 1 or higher should be cause for concern in goats.
14 Somatic Cell Counts are a more accurate measure of udder health. Healthy dairy goat herds can be expected to produce milk with a somatic cell count under 500,000. The presence of mastitis infection in dairy goat herds is reflected in bulk tank milk samples with a CMT of 1 or higher and a somatic cell count exceeding 1,000,000 cells per milliliter.
15 Regular use of the CMT or SCC can give both the owner and the milk consumer confidence that the milk is produced by healthy animals.
16 Prevention and Treatment Tender loving care may be the most important basic requirement for mastitis prevention and treatment. Dairy goats are very sensitive, intelligent animals. When the person milking the goat likes the animals and handles them gently, quietly and patiently, goats willingly and eagerly participate in the milking procedure. With ideal milking management, goats show abundant evidence of affection for the person doing the milking job, letting their milk down for maximum ease and speed of milking.
17 Modern milking machine equipment, if properly cleaned and used, will milk goats rapidly without injury when used by trained operators who like the animals.
18 Rough hand milking which pulls on the teats and excessively strips after milk-out can be stressful and injurious as bad machine milking. Good hand milking requires full hand milking and no tug and pull on the teats.
19 Both hand and machine milking require good milking preparation - clean dry teats and clean dry hands and/or teat cup inflations. Rough handling, irregular milking times, overmilking or inadequate preparation for milking all take their toll in providing stress and injury. These directly affect mastitis resistance and susceptibility.
20 Mastitis in dairy goats, like mastitis in dairy cows, is rarely an important disease in herds where animals are thoroughly prepared for milking by massaging and washing udders. The use of a bactericidal solution to cleanse the udder and teats also stimulates good milk let-down. Dry the udder and teats with an individual paper towel before milking begins. With hand milking, it is very important that milkers' hands be thoroughly washed and dried before milking.
21 Milking machine teat cups should not be attached to the goat until udder and teats are thoroughly washed and massaged, cleaned and dried. Hand or machine milking which is hurtful or excessive beyond normal let-down contributes to teat end injury and the spread of mastitis from goat to goat in the milking procedure.
22 Teat Dipping This procedure has been found useful for preventing spread of mastitis from infected to susceptible glands in dairy cow herds. It is equally effective and useful in dairy goats. However, some teat dipping solutions tolerated by dairy cow teats may be too irritant for dairy goats. Teat dipping solutions should not be used for dairy goats if they produce drying or irritation of the skin of the teats.
23 Dry Treatment Dry cow mastitis treatment udder infusion formulations are recommended for goats which have had evidence of mastitis infection before drying off and they may be at least as effective in preventing mastitis attack during the dry period. A single dry cow quarter udder infusion dose is recommended for each udder half in the goat.
24 Systemic Treatment In severe acute attacks of mastitis, systemic administration of antibiotics by intravenous or other parenteral means is indicated. Frequent udder massage with gentle hand milking may be helpful to relieve pressure in the affected gland to aid recovery. Strict attention should be paid to milk witholding instructions on the label of the product used. When mastitis cases are treated by a veterinarian, be sure that you follow milk witholding instructions given.
25 Summary Mastitis in dairy goats is usually the result of defective milking management which gives the organisms responsible the opportunity to spread and produce disease.
26 Adequate sanitary preparation for milking which results in clean dry udders, clean dry milkers' hands or milking equipment are fundamental requirements for mastitis prevention.
27 Regular use of the California Mastitis Test and/or Somatic Cell Counts can successfully monitor the progress of mastitis control and the health status of udders in the herd.
28 Antibiotic udder treatments available are excellent for treatment of infected mammary glands, but success with their use is determined by the level of milking management and sanitation used in milking the herd. Of course, milk from treated does must be withheld from human consumption according to label instructions; nor can meat of treated goats go to butcher before usually 30 days.