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Can Clinical Mastitis Cause Abortion?

Dairy Pipeline: September 1999

Ernest Hovingh
Extension Veterinarian
Virginia-Maryland Regional College opf Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-5234

Some recently published research from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida examined the relationship between mastitis and abortion in lactating dairy cows. The researchers examined 2087 records of dairy cows from a large Florida dairy herd. The results of their investigation suggest that cows that experience a clinical case of mastitis during the first 45 days after breeding are almost 3 times more likely to abort than cows that don't experience mastitis. Unfortunately, the authors did not determine which organisms caused the mastitis. However, they speculate that the endotoxins that can be released into the bloodstream during a bout of coliform mastitis could have caused the abortions. (This agrees with some other published work in which cows injected with endotoxin aborted their fetuses.) While this research could not definitively prove that the mastitis caused the subsequent abortion, it certainly provides another reason for producers to make a serious effort to prevent clinical mastitis.

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