Treatment of mild to moderate clinical bovine mastitis caused by gram-positive bacteria: A noninferiority randomized trial of local penicillin treatment alone or combined with systemic treatment

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Bovine mastitis is one of the most important diseases in modern dairy farming, as it leads to reduced welfare and milk production and increased need for antibiotic use. Clinical mastitis in Denmark is most often treated with a combination of local and systemic treatment with penicillin. The objective of this randomized clinical trial was to assess whether worse results could be expected with local intramammary treatment with penicillin compared with a combination of local and systemic treatment with penicillin in terms of the bacteriological cure of mild and moderate clinical mastitis cases caused by gram-positive bacteria. We carried out a noninferiority trial with a noninferiority margin set to a relative reduction in bacteriological cure of 15% between these 2 treatment groups to assess the effect of reducing the total antibiotic use by a factor of 16 for each treated case. Clinical mastitis cases from 12 Danish dairy farms were considered for enrollment. On-farm selection of gram-positive cases was carried out by the farm personnel within the first 24 h after a clinical mastitis case was detected. A single farm used bacterial culture results from the on-farm veterinarian, whereas the other 11 farms were provided with an on-farm test to distinguish gram-positive bacteria from gram-negative or samples without bacterial growth. Cases with suspected gram-positive bacteria were allocated to a treatment group: either local or combination. Bacteriological cure was assessed based on the bacterial species identified in the milk sample from the clinical mastitis case and 2 follow-up samples collected approximately 2 and 3 wk after ended treatment. Identification of bacteria was carried out using MALDI-TOF on bacterial culture growth. Noninferiority was assessed using unadjusted cure rates and adjusted cure rates from a multivariable mixed logistic regression model. Of the 1,972 clinical mastitis cases registered, 345 (18%) met all criteria for inclusion (full data). The data set was further reduced to 265 cases for the multivariable analysis to include only complete registrations. Streptococcus uberis was the most commonly isolated pathogen. Noninferiority was demonstrated for both unadjusted and adjusted cure rates. The unadjusted cure rates were 76.8% and 83.1% for the local and combined treatments, respectively (full data). The pathogen and somatic cell count before the clinical case had an effect on the efficacy of treatment; thus efficient treatment protocols should be herd- and case-specific. The effect of pathogen and somatic cell count on treatment efficacy was similar irrespective of the treatment protocol. We conclude that bacteriological cure of local penicillin treatment for mild and moderate clinical mastitis cases was noninferior to the combination of local and systemic treatment using a 15% noninferiority margin. This suggests that a potential 16-fold reduction in antimicrobial use per mastitis treatment can be achieved with no adverse effect on cure rate.

TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)5696-5714
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. and Fass Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

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