Free access
Vet. Res.
Volume 34, Number 5, September-October 2003
Mastitis of dairy ruminants
Page(s) 565 - 578
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2003) 565-578
Vet. Res. 34 (2003) 565-578
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2003026

Indicators of inflammation in the diagnosis of mastitis

Satu Pyörälä

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, Saari Unit, 04920 Saarentaus, Finland
(Received 9 October 2002, accepted 31 January 2003)

Mastitis affects the quality of milk and is a potential health risk for the other cows. In a well managed dairy herd, in addition to clinical mastitis, subclinical mastitis should be efficiently detected. Bacteriological sampling is not feasible as a routine test to identify subclinical mastitis, and indirect tests of mastitis are more suitable for selecting cows with intramammary infections for subsequent bacteriological sampling. Mastitis affects the composition of milk, and the degree of changes depends on the infecting agent and the inflammatory response. Indicators of inflammation in the milk which can be determined using rapid, reliable and easy routine techniques, can be used for the early detection of mastitis. The measuring of the somatic cell count in milk is the standard method, but the analysis technique is problematic for routine use in herds. The most promising parameters for monitoring subclinical mastitis are milk N-acetyl- $\beta$-D-glucosaminidase activity, lactose, and electrical conductivity along with some other indicators such as optical and milk flow measurements, preferably with an inter-quarter evaluation included in the test. Acute phase proteins, haptoglobin and serum amyloid A, are also potential candidates for mastitis monitoring. New mastitis detection systems which can be adapted into on-line use are urgently needed, since dairy units are growing bigger and automatic milking systems are being taken into use.

Key words: mastitis / indicator of inflammation / somatic cell count / NAGase / electrical conductivity

Correspondence and reprints: Satu Pyörälä

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003