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Easy Mastitis Test: Bacterial identification for Cow’s udder infection
Infection of cow’s udders or mastitis, a very common problem in the dairy industry, is usually caused by bacteria including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus agalactiae. When not treated promptly, infected cows often will not be able to produce milk in the next lactation cycle. If infected cows are left untreated, severe clinical mastitis may cause death. In Thailand, the minimum estimated rate of mastitis in dairy cows is around 15% per month. While scientists have access to new bacterial identification technologies such as mass spectrometry and molecular-level assays for their laboratory, dairy farmers in the rural areas do not often have the privilege to such laboratory facilities to detect mastitis.
The technology comprises a bacterial identification kit for cow’s udder infection termed Easy Mastitis Test (EMT). EMT is a set of bacterial identification device intended for use by farmers. Using traditional techniques as the base standard protocol for mastitis-causing bacteria identification, EMT was further developed to provide the following value propositions for farmers: accessibility where everyone can use, minimal instrument requirement, minimal logistics boundary, low costs and fast speed to results within a day.
Although it is necessary for mastitis control, most Thai dairy farmers are not cognizant of the importance of bacterial identification for mastitis. This could be due to primitive dairy herd management. The technology provider is hence seeking potential collaboration with government bodies or private sectors who have keen interests in the sustainable development of dairy industry, especially in the minimization of antibiotic use.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
EMT is an innovation for bacterial identification using technology transfer from scientists to dairy farmers by customizing standard procedures to a portable device format. The aim is to provide easy access and ease of usage that whoever you are and wherever your location is, the identification of bacteria causing mastitis is possible simply with only a cheap yogurt machine maker.
EMT comprises four components in small sizes: 1) basic culture set, 2) streptococci identification set, 3) staphylococci identification set and 4) antibiotic susceptibility set. An in-house yogurt maker is the only instrument needed for using EMT.
For dairy farmers in Thailand, EMT presents a state of art tool to control mastitis in rural area. Using standard bacterial identification protocol, various experiments were conducted to optimize culture medium and biochemical tests selectively for bacteria causing mastitis to establish EMT as a portable, valid detection test for mastitis. Furthermore, optimization to improve on portability and shelf life were also conducted. Therefore, the key advantages and value propositions of the EMT are:
- Ease of use
- Reasonable shelf life of at least a month in a refrigerator
- Minimal instrument involvement: a yogurt marker as the only required tool
EMT allows farmers to identify the causative bacteria. Farmers can use the appropriate antibiotics for treating the root cause without using antibiotics unnecessarily. This not only helps to alleviate financial burden on farmers, but also reduce antibiotics use in livestock rearing, thereby helping to tackle the issue of antibiotic resistance.
Primary application areas of EMT are:
- For use in dairy farms in rural areas where there is no bacterial identification facility
- For use in general bacteria laboratory facility where these laboratories are not familiar with bacteria causing mastitis
- For other veterinary diagnosis: in small animal diseases, the EMT can be adopted to help veterinarians for better diagnostic where bacterial laboratory is not available
In Thailand, the minimum estimated rate of mastitis in dairy cows is around 15% per month. From a total of about 320,000 dairy cows in Thailand, there are approximately 48,000 mastitis cases per month, and 30% (14,400 cases) of them require bacterial identification for further control of mastitis. As most dairy farms have limited access to bacterial laboratories, the estimated size of the EMT market is about 80% (11,520 kits per month). To reach this estimated market size, education on the importance of bacterial identification for mastitis control among Thai dairy farmers is required in order to allow adoption of EMT by dairy farms.
- Farmers can alleviate their economic burden from unnecessary antibiotic treatment
- Farmers can reduce their economic loss resulting from untreated cows infected with mastitis as EMT allows prompt detection and treatment of mastitis-infected cows
- Farms produce more milk with better quality, which translate to increase in their income.
- Milk factory can produce better dairy products using raw materials of better quality
- Reduced use of antibiotics in livestock rearing can help tackle the rising global health problem of antibiotic resistance