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The effect of sampling technique on PCR-based bacteriological results of bovine milk samples

Hiitiö, Heidi, Simojoki, Heli, Kalmus, Piret, Holopainen, Jani, Pyörälä, Satu, Taponen, Suvi
Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.8 pp. 6532-6541
DNA, Staphylococcus, cows, diagnostic techniques, mastitis, milk, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, sterilized milk, udders
The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of sampling technique on the microbiological results of bovine milk samples using multiplex real-time PCR. Comparison was made between a technique where the milk sample was taken directly from the udder cistern of the udder quarter using a needle and vacuum tube and conventional sampling. The effect of different cycle threshold (Ct) cutoff limits on the results was also tested to estimate the amount of amplified DNA in the samples. A total of 113 quarters from 53 cows were tested pairwise using both techniques, and each sample was studied with real-time PCR. Sampling from the udder cistern reduced the number of species per sample compared with conventional sampling. In conventional samples, the number of positive Staphylococcus spp. results was over twice that of samples taken with the needle technique, indicating that most of the Staphylococcus spp. originated from the teat or environmental sources. The Ct values also showed that Staphylococcus spp. were present in most samples only in low numbers. Routine use of multiplex real-time PCR in mastitis diagnostics could benefit from critical evaluation of positive Staphylococcus spp. results with Ct values between 34.0 and 37.0. Our results emphasize the importance of a careful aseptic milk sampling technique and a microbiologically positive result for a milk sample should not be automatically interpreted as an intramammary infection or mastitis.