Open Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 41, Number 2, March–April 2010
Number of page(s) 15
Published online 20 October 2009
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2010) 41:13
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2010) 41:13
DOI: 10.1051/vetres/2009061

Modelling the dynamics of intramammary E. coli infections in dairy cows: understanding mechanisms that distinguish transient from persistent infections

Lisa J. White1, Ynte H. Schukken2, Belgin Dogan2, Laura Green3, Dörte Döpfer4, Mike J. Chappell5 and Graham F. Medley3

1  Mahidol Oxford Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
2  Departments of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, and Clinical Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA
3  Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom
4  Department of Medical Sciences, University of Madison, Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, 53706, USA
5  School of Engineering, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom

Received 6 March 2009; accepted 15 October 2009; published online 20 October 2009

Abstract - The majority of intramammary infections with Escherichia coli in dairy cows result in transient infections with duration of about 10 days or less, although more persistent infections (2 months or longer) have been identified. We apply a mathematical model to explore the role of an intracellular mammary epithelial cell reservoir in the dynamics of infection. We included biological knowledge of the bovine immune response and known characteristics of the bacterial population in both transient and persistent infections. The results indicate that varying the survival duration of the intracellular reservoir reproduces the data for both transient and persistent infections. Survival in an intracellular reservoir is the most likely mechanism that ensures persistence of E. coli infections in mammary glands. Knowledge of the pathogenesis of persistent infections is essential to develop preventive and treatment programmes for these important infections in dairy cows.

Key words: mathematical model / mastitis / Escherichia coli / persistent infection

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2009