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Am J Vet Res. 1996 Jan;57(1):39-42.

Epidemiological characteristics of bovine clinical mastitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli studied by DNA fingerprinting.

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Department of Herd Health and Reproduction, Utrecht University, Netherlands.



To study the epidemiology of clinical mastitis caused by Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus by differentiating isolates with DNA fingerprinting techniques, using polymerase chain reaction.


Milk samples were collected from cases of clinical mastitis in dairy cows. Escherichia coli and S aureus isolates from these cases were compared within and between cows and herds.


Seven dairy herds with an average bulk milk somatic cell count < 150,000/ml, and incidence of cows with clinical mastitis of > 25%/y.


Chromosomal DNA was isolated from E coli and S aureus strains isolated from cases of clinical mastitis, and amplified by polymerase chain reaction, using enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus primers for E coli and a random amplified polymorphic DNA primer for S aureus. Escherichia coli and S aureus strains were identified and differentiated, using their DNA polymorphism pattern.


Multiple E coli genotypes were found in each of the herds. Persistent infections with E coli were sporadic. Only a limited number of different S aureus genotypes was found in each of the herds studied. Recurrent cases of S aureus mastitis were found in 25% of quarters with clinical S aureus mastitis. Comparing S aureus isolates from different herds indicated that 1 S aureus genotype was most prevalent.


Because different quarters were infected with different genotypes, it was concluded that E coli is an environmental pathogen, and does not generally spread from quarter to quarter. The hypothesis that S aureus mastitis is a contagious disease, spreading from infected to uninfected quarters, could not be rejected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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