Antimicrobial usage in food animals has a direct impact on human health, and approximately 80% of the antibiotics prescribed in the dairy industry are used to treat bovine mastitis. Here we provide a longitudinal description of the changes in the microbiome of milk that are associated with mastitis and antimicrobial therapy. Next-generation sequencing, 16 S rRNA gene quantitative real-time PCR, and aerobic culturing were applied to assess the effect of disease and antibiotic therapy on the milk microbiome. Cows diagnosed with clinical mastitis associated with Gram-negative pathogens or negative aerobic culture were randomly allocated into 5 days of Ceftiofur intramammary treatment or remained as untreated controls. Serial milk samples were collected from the affected quarter and the ipsilateral healthy quarter of the same animal. Milk from the mastitic quarter had a higher bacterial load and reduced microbial diversity compared to healthy milk. Resolution of the disease was accompanied by increases in diversity indexes and a decrease in pathogen relative abundance. Escherichia coli-associated mastitic milk samples had a remarkably distinct bacterial profile, dominated by Enterobacteriaceae, when compared to healthy milk. However, no differences were observed in culture-negative mastitis samples when compared to healthy milk. Antimicrobial treatment had no significant effect on clinical cure, bacteriological cure, pathogen clearance rate or bacterial load.
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