Invited review: The role of cow, pathogen, and treatment regimen in the therapeutic success of bovine Staphylococcus aureus mastitis

H W Barkema, Y H Schukken, R N Zadoks

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Staphylococcus aureus is an important cause of udder infections in dairy herds. Both lactational and dry cow therapy are part of Staph. aureus control programs. Reported cure rates for Staph. aureus mastitis vary considerably. The probability of cure depends on cow, pathogen, and treatment factors. Cure rates decrease with increasing age of the cow, increasing somatic cell count, increasing duration of infection, increasing bacterial colony counts in milk before treatment, and increasing number of quarters infected. Staphylococcus aureus mastitis in hind quarters has a low cure rate compared with front quarters. Antimicrobial treatment of intramammary infections with penicillin-resistant Staph. aureus strains results in a lower cure rate for treatment with either beta-lactam or non-beta-lactam antibiotics. Other strain-specific factors may affect the probability of cure but routine diagnostic methods for use in bacteriology laboratories or veterinary practices are not yet available. The most important treatment factor affecting cure is treatment duration. Increased duration of treatment is associated with increased chance of cure. Economically, extended treatment is not always justified, even when indirect effects of treatment such as prevention of contagious transmission are taken into consideration. Usefulness of treatment trials could be improved by standardization of case definitions, consideration of host and strain factors, and sufficient statistical power. Treatment of young animals with penicillin-sensitive Staph. aureus infections is often justified based on bacteriological cure and economic outcome, whereas treatment of older animals, chronic infections, or penicillin-resistant isolates should be discouraged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1877-1895
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Mastitis
  • Treatment
  • Cure

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