Numerous factors affect milk somatic cell score (SCS) in dairy goats including physiologic factors such as stage of lactation, and pathological factors such as bacterial intramammary infection (IMI), e.g. staphylococcal IMI. The association between IMI and udder inflammation and especially differences in the inflammatory response between the different staphylococcal species are yet to be identified. The objectives of this study were to use data from a recently published longitudinal study that characterized IMI status over time to evaluate the species-specific effect of staphylococcal IMI on udder half-level milk SCS, and to evaluate the effect of time since IMI diagnosis on this relationship. Half-level milk samples for culture and determination of SCS were collected from 171 goats starting within 10 days in milk (DIM), and then at various intervals until ≥ 120 DIM. A mixed linear model was used to assess the effect of species-specific staphylococcal IMI on SCS, accounting for confounding by lentivirus infection, parity, DIM, and the contralateral half IMI status, and for repeated measurements within udder half and for clustering of halves within goat. A second model was used to evaluate the effect of time since first IMI diagnosis and its interaction with staphylococcal IMI status on the relationship between staphylococcal IMI status and SCS. Lentivirus seropositivity and contralateral half IMI status were associated with SCS. Staphylococcal IMI status was associated with SCS, with differences between species. Staphyloccocus caprae, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus simulans, and Staphylococcus xylosus were associated with higher SCS than a number of other species. Time since first diagnosis did not modify the relationship between IMI status and SCS.
Keywords: Caprine; Mastitis; Somatic cell score; Staphylococci; Subclinical.
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