Diagnosing intramammary infections: Evaluating expert opinions on the definition of intramammary infection using conjoint analysis

S. Andersen, I.R. Dohoo, R.O. Riekerink, H. Stryhn, C. Mastitis Res Workers, Ruth Zadoks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary purpose of this study was to develop a set of criteria to serve as a pseudo-gold standard for what constitutes an intramammary infection using data from 3 consecutive quarter milk samples taken 1 wk apart. Data from lactating cows in 90 dairy herds in 4 Canadian provinces were used to generate the data sets ( profiles) used in the conjoint analysis to elicit expert opinions on the topic. The experts were selected from the participants (n = 23) in the 2007 Mastitis Research Workers' Conference in Minneapolis and from a series of mastitis laboratory courses for bovine practitioners ( n = 25) in the Netherlands. Three-week udder quarter profiles with specific combinations of somatic cell count, bacterial species isolated, and plate colony count were selected and included in the conjoint analysis based on the desire to achieve even distributions in the categories of 6 constructed variables. The participants were presented with 3 sets of cards with 20 cards in each set. On each card, they were asked to assign a probability of infection on the middle day ( test day) in the 3-wk profile. Depending on the set of cards, they were asked only to be concerned with the probability of infection with coagulase-negative staphylococci, Escherichia coli, or Staphylococcus aureus. These 3 organisms were chosen to represent a minor pathogen, a major environmental pathogen, and a major contagious pathogen, respectively. The assigned probabilities for each organism were cross-tabulated according to the number of times the organism of interest was isolated in the 3-wk period, how many colonies of the organism of interest were isolated on the test day, and the somatic cell count (200,000 cells/mL). There was considerable variation in the assigned probabilities within each of the combinations of factors. The median, minimum, and maximum values of the assigned probabilities for each combination were computed. The combinations with a median probability >50% were considered intramammary infection-positive and included as a criterion in the consensus standard. This yielded 4 possible criteria, which were condensed to the following 2 by consensus at the 2008 Mastitis Research Workers' Conference in Toronto: 1) the organism of interest was isolated on the test day with at least 10 colonies (1,000 cfu/mL), and 2) the organism of interest was isolated at least twice in the 3-wk period.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)2966-2975
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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