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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Treatment of Coliform Mastitis in Bovine Practice: – Can Antibiotics be Avoided?

  • 1
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica200344 (Suppl 1) :P8

  • Published:


  • Morphine
  • Oxytocin
  • Mastitis
  • Feed Intake
  • Epidural Analgesia


Coliform mastitis is an acute and potentially lethal type of mastitis in bovine practice. The therapeutical approach to acute coliform mastitis is frequently discussed. While is generally accepted that supportive therapy, such as fluid therapy, is necessary, the administration of antibiotics is questionned. This is due to mainly two reasons. Firstly, the clinical ill effects observed in coliform mastitis are often thought to be due to the effect of the accompanying endotoxicosis, which would not be influenced positively by the killing of the non-invasive E. coli. Secondly, antibiotics effective against E. coli, are potent, broadspectered antibiotics, with heavy impact on the micro-ecology. The unnecessary use of such antibiotics would subsequently contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.


The aim of the present investigation was to determine the clinical outcome of two standard treatment regimens, one including antibiotics and one without.

Materials and methods

During a 3 year period, cows presenting the following clinical signs: swelling of the quarter, acute onset, reduced feed intake and milk yield and no distinct changes of the milk, were treated for clinical coliform mastitis. The standard treatment regimen for all cows included the intravenous administration of oxytocin, calcium, hypertonic fluid, invertose and NSAID. Pain relief was obtained by the application of an epidural analgesia containing xylazin and morphine. The number of CFU/cm2 of the milk was determined by direct culture on blood agar plates in the practice laboratory. All cows were examined, treated and sampled again 24 hours later. On day 21, clinical status, milk yield and the number of culled or dry teats were recorded for all cows. The first year, all cows were treated without the use of antibiotics (group 1), later cases were treated either with danofloxacin iv or cefquinome imm (group 2).


The number of clinically restored cows, number of cows with reduced milk yield and number of cows with culled or dry teats in groups 1 and 2 were counted. All numbers in the respective groups were compared by Fisher's exact test.

Results and conclusion

Fifty-six cows entered the study, and 28 of these were treated without antibiotics. Of the remaining 28 cows, 19 were treated with danofloxacin and 9 with cefquinome. It appeared that cows with 142 CFU/cm2 or less, recovered without antibiotics. The use of antibiotics in cows with 142 < CFU/cm2 < app. 200 CFU/cm2 in the milk, was beneficial. Cows with milk containing more than app. 200 CFU/cm2 were generally severely ill and difficult to save, antibiotics or not. The routine determination of CFU/cm2 in coliform mastitis is therefore an important decision support tool, if the use of antibiotics in the treatment of cows with coliform mastitis is to be avoided.

Authors’ Affiliations

Søndergade 37, Vivild, DK-8961, Allingaabro Denmark


© The Author(s); licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2003

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.