Distribution of non-aureus staphylococci from quarter milk, teat apices, and rectal feces of dairy cows, and their virulence potential

A. Wuytack, A. De Visscher, S. Piepers, F. Boyen, F. Haesebrouck, S. De Vliegher

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftArtikelpeer review


Non-aureus staphylococci (NAS) are predominantly isolated from bovine milk samples of quarters suffering from subclinical mastitis. They are also abundantly present on dairy cows' teat apices and can be recovered from bovine fecal samples, as recently described. Differences in ecology, epidemiology, effect on udder health, and virulence or protective traits have been reported among the species within this group. The objectives of this study were (1) to describe the species-specific distribution of NAS in 3 bovine-associated habitats, namely quarter milk, teat apices, and rectal feces, and (2) to evaluate the virulence potential of NAS by comparing their distribution in contrasting milk sample strata and the presence of selected virulence genes. A cross-sectional, systematic sampling procedure was followed in 8 dairy herds that participated in the local Dairy Herd Improvement program in Flanders, Belgium. Quarter milk samples (n = 573) were collected from 144 lactating cows in 8 herds. In 5 of the 8 herds, teat apex swabs (n = 192) were taken from 15 lactating cows, before and after milking, and from 18 dry cows. In the same 5 herds, rectal feces were sampled from 80 lactating cows (n = 80), taking into account that a cow could only serve as the source of one type of sample. In addition, milk samples of all clinical mastitis cases were continuously collected during the 1-yr study period from March 2017 to March 2018 in the 8 herds. In total, 1,676 Staphylococcus isolates were phenotypically identified and subjected to MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Thirty-three, 98, and 28% of all quarter milk, teat apex, and rectal fecal samples were NAS-positive, respectively, reaffirming the presence of NAS in rectal feces. The overall predominant species in the 3 habitats combined were Staphylococcus haemolyticus, Staphylococcus chromogenes, and Staphylococcus hominis. Four, 16, and 12% of the healthy quarters (quarter milk somatic cell count ≤50,000 cells/mL of milk), quarters with subclinical mastitis (quarter milk somatic cell count >50,000 cells/mL of milk), and quarters with clinical mastitis, respectively, were NAS-positive, suggesting that the potential to cause (mild) clinical mastitis is present among NAS. This was substantiated by comparing the presence of virulence genes of NAS isolates originating from contrasting milk sample strata (healthy quarters and quarters with clinical mastitis).
Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
TijdschriftJournal of Dairy Science
Pagina's (van-tot)10658-10675
PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - nov.-2020


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