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Mastitis at a Herd-Level

The mammary gland is an excretory gland, meaning that it produces a fluid that is secreted to the outside of the body. These secretions leave the gland through a series of ducts that eventually open to the outside of the skin. The presence of these openings not only means that the mammary secretion can leave the gland, it also means that microorganisms can enter the gland. When that happens, the gland may become infected and present as a disease known as mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland, the inflammation most commonly being caused by an infection by a pathogen. Mastitis is the most costly disease in dairy cattle, but is also prevalent in other species, including our own. We will examine many of the aspects of how this disease is manifested using the dairy cow as our primary example in this module. We will examine mastitis at the level of an individual cow, as well as at the whole herd level. And then to fully integrate and apply the knowledge gained about this disease, we will examine several real-life cases of herd-level mastitis problems faced by dairy producers.

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