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The value of pathogen information in treating clinical mastitis

  • Elva Cha (a1), Rebecca L Smith (a2), Anders R Kristensen (a3), Julia A Hertl (a1), Ynte H Schukken (a1) (a4), Loren W Tauer (a5), Frank L Welcome (a6) and Yrjö T Gröhn (a1)...

The objective of this study was to determine the economic value of obtaining timely and more accurate clinical mastitis (CM) test results for optimal treatment of cows. Typically CM is first identified when the farmer observes recognisable outward signs. Further information of whether the pathogen causing CM is Gram-positive, Gram-negative or other (including no growth) can be determined by using on-farm culture methods. The most detailed level of information for mastitis diagnostics is obtainable by sending milk samples for culture to an external laboratory. Knowing the exact pathogen permits the treatment method to be specifically targeted to the causation pathogen, resulting in less discarded milk. The disadvantages are the additional waiting time to receive test results, which delays treating cows, and the cost of the culture test. Net returns per year (NR) for various levels of information were estimated using a dynamic programming model. The Value of Information (VOI) was then calculated as the difference in NR using a specific level of information as compared to more detailed information on the CM causative agent. The highest VOI was observed where the farmer assumed the pathogen causing CM was the one with the highest incidence in the herd and no pathogen specific CM information was obtained. The VOI of pathogen specific information, compared with non-optimal treatment of Staphylococcus aureus where recurrence and spread occurred due to lack of treatment efficacy, was $20.43 when the same incorrect treatment was applied to recurrent cases, and $30.52 when recurrent cases were assumed to be the next highest incidence pathogen and treated accordingly. This indicates that negative consequences associated with choosing the wrong CM treatment can make additional information cost-effective if pathogen identification is assessed at the generic information level and if the pathogen can spread to other cows if not treated appropriately.

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Journal of Dairy Research
  • ISSN: 0022-0299
  • EISSN: 1469-7629
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-dairy-research
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