Original Research

Validity of somatic cell count as indicator of pathogen-specific intramammary infections

Inge-Marié Petzer, Joanne Karzis, Edward F. Donkin, Edward C. Webb, Eric M.C. Etter
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 88 | a1465 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v88i0.1465 | © 2017 Inge-Marié Petzer, Joanne Karzis, Edward F. Donkin, Edward C. Webb, Eric M.C. Etter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2016 | Published: 13 April 2017

About the author(s)

Inge-Marié Petzer, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Joanne Karzis, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Edward F. Donkin, Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Edward C. Webb, Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Eric M.C. Etter, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Department Environment and Societies, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), France


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Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine whether somatic cell count (SCC) was an effective test, with a sensitivity exceeding 85%, to determine species-specific bacterial infections. In addition, the relation between the SCC and various udder pathogen groups was investigated. SCC thresholds of greater than 200 000 cells/mL were used in quarter and greater than 150 000 cells/mL in composite milk samples. A retrospective study was conducted on a data set for 89 635 quarter and 345 467 composite cow milk samples. Eleven SCC threshold values were used to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy for the following bacteria: Gram-positive major pathogens: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus dysgalactiae and Streptococcus uberis; Gram-negative major pathogens: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Serratia spp.; minor pathogens: coagulase-negative staphylococci, Micrococcus spp., Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, Streptococcus pyogenes, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus canis, Trueperella pyogenes and other Enterobacteriaceae. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated taking the effect of clustering into account with quarter milk samples. Most samples yielding major Gram-positive pathogens (88.9% in quarter and 79.9% in composite samples) and minor pathogens (61.4% in quarter and 51.7% in composite samples) had SCC greater than 200 000 cells/mL. Sensitivity of the SCC test to detect major pathogens at an SCC threshold of greater than 200 000 cells/mL in quarter samples and greater than 150 000 cells/mL in composite milk samples was 88.2% and 84.2%, respectively, but specificity was low (57.7% and 52.8%, respectively).


Keywords

intramammary infections; mastitis diagnosis; pathogen-specific; somatic cell count

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