Bovine mastitis caused by Escherichia coli can range from being a subclinical infection of the mammary gland to a severe systemic disease. Cow-dependent factors such as lactation stage and age affect the severity of coliform mastitis. Evidence for the efficacy of antimicrobial treatment for E. coli mastitis is very limited. Antimicrobial resistance is generally not a limiting factor for treatment, but it should be monitored to detect changes in resistance profiles. The only antimicrobials for which there is some scientific evidence of beneficial effects in the treatment for E. coli mastitis are fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins. Both are critically important drugs, the use of which in animals destined for food should be limited to specific indications and should be based on bacteriological diagnosis. The suggested routine protocol in dairy herds could target the primary antimicrobial treatment for mastitis, specifically infections caused by gram-positive bacteria. In E. coli mastitis with mild to moderate clinical signs, a non-antimicrobial approach (anti-inflammatory treatment, frequent milking and fluid therapy) should be the first option. In cases of severe E. coli mastitis, parenteral administration of fluoroquinolones, or third- or fourth-generation cephalosporins, is recommended due to the risk of unlimited growth of bacteria in the mammary gland and ensuing bacteremia. Evidence for the efficacy of intramammary-administered antimicrobial treatment for E. coli mastitis is so limited that it cannot be recommended. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have documented the efficacy in the treatment for E. coli mastitis and are recommended for supportive treatment for clinical mastitis.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.