A rapid diagnostic test for bovine mastitis is being developed. The test can be used on the farm, to identify the type of bacteria that caused the infection.

The test is being developed by Abingdon Health, a UK-based developer and manufacturer of lateral flow immunoassay tests and readers in cooperation with the University of Birmingham and University of Glasgow in the UK. The project has been awarded a grant of £805,000 (€ 916,000) from Innovate UK (government funding programme) to develop this test over a 30 month project period.

Cow is quickly prescribed

Currently mastitis is detected by visual inspecting the milk, and the type of infection is confirmed by sending it off for laboratory testing, which is both time-consuming and expensive. Abingdon’s diagnostic test for mastitis will be based on a lateral flow technology that can be used on the farm, to identify the type of bacteria that caused the infection. Test results will ensure that the cow is quickly prescribed the right antibiotic to treat the infection, and it is expected that this will reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, and the spread of disease between cattle in milking herds. The test will aim to provide sensitive measurements in order to stratify mastitis by bacterial class (gram-negative or gram-positive).

Tools to further reduce antibiotics

Dr David Pritchard, Chief Technical Officer of Abingdon Health Ltd, commented: “The pressure to reduce the use of antimicrobials in food production is growing rapidly. To do this, we need to provide farmers with rapid diagnostic tests that guide the choice of antibiotic, and ensure animals are treated quickly and effectively with the right antibiotic. We also believe this test will provide benefits to the dairy industry in terms of milk quality and yield, and to the cattle in terms of animal welfare.”

University of Glasgow’s Project lead Professor Ruth Zadoks (Professor of Molecular Epidemiology) adds: “Some countries have already imposed limitations on antimicrobial use, such as quota. We must provide dairy farmers with the tools and this project, and the School of Veterinary Medicine’s good relationship with the dairy industry, enable us to do so.”

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