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Med Vet Entomol. 1997 Apr;11(2):187-92.

Summer mastitis experimentally induced by Hydrotaea irritans exposed to bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Parasitology, National Veterinary Institute, Sweden.


Summer mastitis is an acute suppurative bacterial infection of the udder in heifers and dry cows. To ascertain the possible role of flies in the transmission of the disease, experimental exposures of recipient heifers to Hydrotaea irritans previously exposed to bacteria were carried out. Flies were allowed to feed on secretions from clinical cases of summer mastitis. The pathogens present were the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, Actinomyces pyogenes, Stuart-Schwan cocci, Peptococcus indolicus, Fusobacterium necrophorum and Bacterioides species. The teats of eight heifers were exposed to flies with verified pathogen content. Two teats of each animal were deliberately damaged before fly exposure. One teat was cut, another pricked with insect needles to mimic insect bites. Two of the heifers developed summer mastitis in the quarters where teats had been cut. The bacterial species isolated from these quarters corresponded to those that had previously been fed to the flies. For the first time, it is now demonstrated that H.irritans is capable of transmitting summer mastitis pathogens and so causing summer mastitis in recipient heifers. Lesions on the teat orifice may be a predisposing factor in the development of the disease.

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