Cross-infection between cats and cows: Origin and control of Streptococcus canis mastitis in a dairy herd

L L Tikofsky, R N Zadoks

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Group G streptococci in animals usually belong to the species Streptococcus canis and are most commonly found in dogs and cats. Occasionally, Strep. canis is detected in milk from dairy cows. An outbreak of Strep. canis mastitis in a dairy herd is described. Based on results from bacterial culture and ribotyping, a cat with chronic sinusitis was the most likely source of the outbreak. Subsequent cow-to-cow transmission of Strep. canis was facilitated by poor udder health management, including use of a common udder cloth and failure to use postmilking teat disinfection. Infected cows had macroscopically normal udders and milk, but significantly higher somatic cell counts than Strep. canis-negative herd mates. The outbreak was controlled through antibiotic treatment of lactating cows, early dry-off with dry cow therapy, culling of infected animals, and implementation of standard mastitis prevention measures. Cure was significantly more likely in dry-treated cows (87.5%) and cows treated during lactation (67%) than in untreated cows (9%). Whereas mastitis due to group G streptococci or Strep. canis in dairy cows is usually limited to sporadic cases of environmental ( canine or feline) origin, this case study shows that crossing of the host species barrier by Strep. canis may result in an outbreak of mastitis if management conditions are conducive to contagious transmission. In such a situation, measures that are successful in control of Strep. agalactiae can also be used to control Strep. canis mastitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2707-2713
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • Streptococcus canis
  • Mastitis
  • Host species barrier
  • Group G streptococcus

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