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Mastitis prevention and control practices and mastitis treatment strategies associated with the consumption of (critically important) antimicrobials on dairy herds in Flanders, Belgium

Stevens, M., Piepers, S., De Vliegher, S.
Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.4 pp. 2896-2903
anti-infective agents, audits, control methods, cows, dairy herds, drying, farmers, herd health, human health, interviews, mastitis, municipal solid waste, therapeutics, udders, veterinarians, Belgium
The main objectives of this study were to evaluate to what extent variations in herd-level antimicrobial consumption (AMC) can be explained by differences in management practices that are consistently effective in the prevention of (sub)clinical mastitis, on the one hand, and by differences in mastitis treatment strategies, on the other hand. Antimicrobial consumption data were obtained during 2012 and 2013 by “garbage can audits” and expressed as antimicrobial treatment incidences (ATI) for all compounds combined (total ATI) and for the critically important antimicrobials for human health separately. Data on mastitis prevention and control practices were obtained via face-to-face interviews performed during herd visits in March 2013. Some management practices and treatment strategies related to udder health were associated with the total AMC. However, the results demonstrated that implementing effective udder health management practices does not necessarily imply a low AMC and vice versa. Herds participating in a veterinary herd health management program and herds selectively drying off cows used fewer antimicrobials compared with herds not participating in such a program or applying blanket dry-cow therapy. Moreover, herds treating (some) (sub)clinical mastitis cases with intramammary homeopathic substances consumed fewer antimicrobials than herds not applying such homeopathic treatments. Besides these factors, no other direct association was found between effective udder health management practices on the one hand and AMC on the other hand. Also, the use of critically important antimicrobials was only associated with the way in which subclinical mastitis cases were treated. The latter indicates that the AMC of critically important antimicrobials is potentially driven by factors other than those included in this study such as those related to the “mindset” of the veterinarians and their farmers. Future research should therefore aim to unravel the reasoning of vets and their farmers behind the use of those critically important antimicrobials for the treatment of mastitis and other diseases.