Research Article: Assessment of acoustic pulse therapy (APT), a non-antibiotic treatment for dairy cows with clinical and subclinical mastitis

Date Published: July 10, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Gabriel Leitner, David Zilberman, Eduard Papirov, Sela Shefy, Juan J Loor.


Clinical and subclinical mastitis affects 30% of cows and is regarded as the most significant economic burden on the dairy farm reducing milk yield and quality and increasing culling rate. A proprietary Acoustic Pulse Therapy (APT) device was developed specifically for treating dairy cows. The APT device was designed to produce deep penetrating acoustic pulses that are distributed over a large treated area at a therapeutic level. This paper presents findings from a clinical assessment of this technology for the treatment of dairy cows with subclinical and clinical mastitis. In subclinical mastitis, a group of 116 cows from 3 herds were identified with subclinical intramammary infection and enrolled in the study; 78 cows were assigned to the treatment group and 38 cows to the control group. Significant differences (P<0.001) were found where 70.5% of the cows in the treatment group returned to normal milk production, compared with only 18.4% of the control group. Daily milk yields of the treated cows increased significantly (P<0.05) and the percentage of cows with log somatic cell count under 5.6 cells/mL was significantly higher (P<0.001). Milk of the infected quarters appeared normal with lactose greater than 4.8%, but this difference was not significant. Of the treated cows with identified bacteria, 52.6% of the quarters were cured, while in the control group only 25.0% (P<0.001). Specifically, all cows identified with Escherichia coli in the treatment group were cured, with 66.6% cured with no intervention in the control. Spontaneous cure of glands infected with coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS) and Streptococci was low while treatment successfully increased the cure of CNS from 13.3% to 53.8% and that of Streptococci from 18.2% to 36.4%. Of the 4 cows identified with Staphylococcus aureus, 3 were cured. The clinical mastitis study group included 29 infected cows that were submitted either to a gold standard antibiotic treatment subgroup of 16 cows (n = 16) or to an APT treatment subgroup of 13 cows (n = 13). A cure of 18.7% was shown for the antibiotic treatment, of which logSCC returned to <5.6 cell/mL and 56.2% were culled. A cure of 76.9% was shown for the APT treatment with only one cow culled (7.7%).

Partial Text

Due to economic pressure dairy farmers exert continuous efforts to maximize profitability by constant improvement of genetic selection, nutrition, and herd management. Thus, an increase in herd size, to include thousands of cows, led to the development of a concept that cow herd management and health control should be primarily focused on the herd rather than on the individual cow [1]. Computerized data acquisition, which provides on-line information on cows’ milk yield, milk composition and animal health, and opens new options to focus on the individual cow [2].

According to routine monthly milk records, 116 cows with high LogSCC (>6.0 cells/mL) were enrolled to the study along with 29 cows from 1 herd that were diagnosed with clinical mastitis by the herd’s veterinarians.

Despite many years of efforts to control mastitis, this infection is still one of the leading causes of economic losses to the dairy industry worldwide. When estimating the loss due to mastitis, it is important to consider which factors are economically important [30, 31], and whether the estimates include clinical mastitis alone or include subclinical mastitis as well. Estimating losses of clinical mastitis are straightforward: the infection is visible and requires treatment due to animal welfare. Dealing with subclinical mastitis presents different challenges because in many of the cows there are no recognizable symptoms and the milk appears normal. If the bulk tank milk is not paid a reduced price due to lower quality, those cows are ignored. Calculations of subclinical mastitis include various costs, such as: diagnostics of the infecting agent, veterinary services, medication, labor, discarded milk, decrease in milk production, premature culling and mortality.

Acoustic pulse therapy—APT—is more effective than antibiotics or no-intervention in treating clinical and subclinical mastitis in dairy cows. In contrast to current treatment options for subclinical mastitis, which require early detection, APT is an easy to use confined treatment of cow’s udders. It does not require bacterial identification nor discarding of milk during and after treatment. Consequently, it is suggested that every cow suspected to be affected with any form of mastitis should be treated with the APT apparatus to gain back loss of milk production.




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