Dynamics of experimentally induced Staphylococcus epidermidis mastitis in East Friesian milk ewes
The responses of five lactating East Friesian milk ewes to experimental mammary infection with Staphylococcus epidermidis and of five control ewes were examined over a period of 10 weeks. Infection caused an influx of neutrophils into milk, the numbers of which started to rise 4 h post infection and peaked 24 h after infection. The initial response was accompanied by mild fever and mild leucopaenia in blood (8 h after infection). No other signs of systemic infection were observed. Milk appeared normal at all times, although the milk yield of infected ewes tended to decline. Staphylococci were absent in milk from four ewes at 2 d and at 3 d after infection, but re-emerged intermittently in four of five ewes at subsequent samplings. Cytokines in milk were measured by ELISA. IL-8 was elevated in infected glands at 2 h and peaked at 8 h. In the four ewes intermittently shedding bacteria, IL-8 remained elevated until the final sampling at 10 weeks. IL-1β was transiently elevated at 1 d and 2 d and showed a pronounced peak in one sheep. Milk samples from this ewe were bacteriologically negative, somatic cell count (SCC) was within the normal range and the concentrations of IL-1β, as well as IL-8, were similiar to the control group (n=5) from 1 week after infection until the final sampling. Histological examination revealed leucocytic infiltrates in the four glands remaining infected at the end of the experiment, and a high level of CD5+ lymphocytes in three ewes. The results suggest that the relationship between the initial neutrophil influx and the proinflammatory cytokines may be responsible for determining the course of infection. Subclinical mastitis due to coagulase-negative staphylococci leads to minor changes in milk yield and milk constituents.(Received March 22 2002)
(Accepted June 11 2002)
Key Words: Mastitis; dairy ewes; Staphylococcus epidermidis; subclinical; cytokines.
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