Dynamics of somatic cell count (SCC) and differential SCC during and following intramammary infections

J Dairy Sci. 2021 Mar;104(3):3427-3438. doi: 10.3168/jds.2020-19378. Epub 2021 Jan 15.


Somatic cell count is frequently used as an indicator of intramammary infections (IMI) in dairy cattle worldwide. The newly introduced differential SCC (DSCC) can potentially contribute to detection of IMI. The purpose of this study was to investigate the dynamics of SCC and DSCC after IMI. We used a data set with monthly samples from 2 Danish dairy herds through 1 yr, using bacterial culture to identify IMI. The dynamics of SCC and DSCC with regard to IMI were assessed at quarter level following new IMI with each of 3 defined pathogen groups, major, minor, or "other" pathogens, using general additive models. Both SCC and DSCC increased after IMI, with a more pronounced increase if major or other pathogens were detected compared with minor pathogens. We found that DSCC increased after IMI with other pathogens in both herds and, in herd 2, after IMI caused by major and minor pathogens. We also estimated the duration of increased SCC and DSCC when they exceeded a threshold, done separately for each pathogen group. Major pathogens had the longest-lasting effect in both herds for both SCC and DSCC. We conclude that the magnitude and duration of response of SCC and DSCC to IMI differs between herds and causative pathogens.

Keywords: cattle; differential somatic cell count; mastitis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases*
  • Cell Count / veterinary
  • Female
  • Mastitis, Bovine*
  • Milk
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / veterinary