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Prevalence and risk factors of subclinical mastitis in Rwanda

Last changed: 12 August 2020
Cow and milkfarmer Rwanda

The objective of this cross-sectional study was to investigate prevalence, causative udder pathogens and their antimicrobial resistance (AMR), as well as cow and herd risk factors associated with subclinical mastitis (SCM = cows with at least one udder quarter with California mastitis test (CMT) score > 2) and intramammary infections (IMI) caused by Staphylococcus (S.) aureus or Non-aureus staphylococci (NAS) in dairy cows linked to Milk Collection Centers (MCCs) in Rwanda.

Screening for SCM with the CMT was done on 572 cows from 404 herds linked to two MCCs in each of four provinces. Milk from udder quarters with a CMT score ≥3 (scale 1–5) was sampled for bacteriological analysis.

Antimicrobial resistance was evaluated in 60 selected S. aureus isolates. Multivariable mixed effect and ordinary logistic regression analyses were performed to identify cow and herd level risk factors associated with SCM, NAS or S. aureus IMI in cows.

The prevalence of SCM was 37.3 % at quarter level and 62.0 % at cow level. Bacteria were isolated 73.7 % of the cultured milk samples, whereas 23.3 % were culture-negative and 3.0 % were contaminated. Staphylococcus aureus and NAS were the most prevalent pathogens, representing more than half of all bacteriological findings. Staphylococcus chromogenes and S. epidermidis were the most prevalent NAS species identified. Of the S. aureus strains 83.3 % were resistant for penicillin, 100 % for clindamycin and 20 % tetracycline.

The risk factor analysis showed that an increased stage of lactation, dirty udder and legs in single cow herds and lack of calf suckling the dam, dirty udder and legs and lack of feeding cow after milking in multiple cow herds were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with an increased odds of SCM.

Similarly, increasing stage of lactation in single cow herds, and housing cows in individual cattle kraal or on earthen floor and hand washing between cows during milking in multiple cow herds were associated with increased odds for NAS IMI. Poor hygiene of milking area in single cow herds and absence of foremilk stripping in multiple cow herds were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with increased odds for S. aureus IMI in cows.

In conclusion, SCM prevalence was high across MCCs. The majority of identified pathogens were contagious in nature and they exhibited resistance to penicillin. Control of the identified risks factors and improved biosecurity through adoption of best practices, and farmer training could contribute to lowering SCM prevalence in Rwanda.

Link to the publication


JB Ndahetuye, J Twambazimana, AK Nyman, C Karege, M Tukei, MP Ongol, Y Persson, R Båge. A cross sectional study of prevalence and risk factors associated with subclinical mastitis and intramammary infections, in dairy herds linked to milk collection centers in Rwanda (2020). Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 179, 105007.


Renée Båge

Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Division of Reproduction

Telephone: 018-672507