Mastitis is always bad news for dairy producers. But not all mastitis infections are created equal. One, in particular, is not only hard to control but is increasingly affecting larger numbers of dairy herds. Prototheca mastitis is impacting dairy production globally.

According to veterinarian Don Sockett, much of Prototheca mastitis remains a mystery, but more cases are emerging than ever before. He says the mastitis-causing agent in Prototheca bovis is algae, the largest differentiator from other strains. Sockett says this organism is a biofilm producer, which makes it immune to chemicals or antimicrobials. For on-farm cases of this infection, most sources of the strain are found in water troughs, bovine feces, mud and feed.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of managing Prototheca mastitis is that it can take weeks or months for symptoms to be noticeable, making it extremely hard to control the spread. However, dairy producers should look for slowness and persistent elevation in somatic cell count that could lead to a Prototheca mastitis diagnosis.

Read more on the hard-to-control dairy cow infection here.