Efficacy of homeopathic and antibiotic treatment strategies in cases of mild and moderate bovine clinical mastitis

Department of Animal Nutrition and Animal Health, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany.
Journal of Dairy Research (Impact Factor: 1.6). 11/2010; 77(4):460-7. DOI: 10.1017/S0022029910000543
Source: PubMed


The objective of this clinical control trial was to examine the effectiveness of the classical homeopathic treatment strategy in cases of mild and moderate bovine clinical mastitis in comparison with antibiotic and placebo treatments. Owing to characteristics of the selected herds, only cases of clinical mastitis caused by environmental pathogens and clinical cases with negative bacteriological result in the pre-treatment milk sample were included in the trial. A total of 136 lactating dairy cows with 147 affected quarters from four herds in Germany were randomly allocated to three treatment groups. The cows were examined on days 0, 1, 2 and on days 7, 14, 28 and 56 post initial infection to assess clinical signs. Simultaneously, with the exception of days 1 and 2, quarter milk samples for laboratory examinations (bacteriology, somatic cell count) were collected to assess bacteriological and cytological cure rates. On days 28 and 56, treatment strategies did not differ significantly with respect to the clinical outcomes and the total cure rate in cases of bacteriological negative mastitis (n=56). In cases of pathogen-positive mastitis (n=91), the cure rate after 4 and 8 weeks was similar between the two treatment strategies, homeopathy and antibiotic treatment, but the difference between the homeopathic and the placebo treatment at day 56 was significant (P<0·05). The results indicate a therapeutic effect of homeopathic treatment in cases of mild and moderate clinical mastitis. However, independent of treatment strategy and bacteriological status, the total cure rate was on a low level, revealing limitations in the effectiveness of both antibiotic and homeopathic treatment strategies.

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    • "So far, only a few papers on the use of homeopathy as a treatment strategy against mastitis have been published, mainly because many of these studies have often been criticized for their inadequate scientific approach (Cucherat et al. 2000). Werner et al. (2010) showed a therapeutic effect of homeopathic treatment only in cases of mild and moderate clinical mastitis that were caused by environmental pathogens or those with no provable pathogen in the milk sample at d 0. Therefore, exclusion of mastitis caused by udder-associated pathogens in the dairy herd in combination with an improved farmand cow-specific diagnostic procedure is an important precondition when using the homeopathic treatment strategy. For this reason, it would be important to identify alternatives to the use of antibiotics, especially knowing that mastitis induces disruption of the normal secretory functions of the mammary gland by reducing the number of epithelial cells and their activity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Bovine udder infections induce a variety of changes in gene expression of different growth factors that may suggest their possible role in glandular tissue protection or repair processes. Growth factors and also chemokines and cytokines may act synergistically to increase the infiltration of neutrophils and macrophages to promote angiogenesis, fibroplasia, matrix deposition, and, ultimately, re-epithelialization. Considering the vast applications, typically in human medicine, of platelet concentrate (PC) and its ease of preparation, the aim of our study was to evaluate an alternative therapy to stimulate the regeneration of glandular tissue, administering a concentration in excess of the growth factors contained in the PC. In each one of the 3 farms examined in the trial, PC was prepared from donor cows in good health, free from infections, and with no records of medications administered during the previous 2 mo. The platelet produced in one farm was used only for treating the cows of the same farm in a heterologous way. A total of 229 mastitic quarters were divided in 3 groups: antibiotic group (treated with intramammary antibiotic), antibiotic and PC group (treated intramammarily with antibiotics in association with PC), and PC group (treated with intramammary PC alone). The diagnosis of mastitis was based on somatic cell count and bacteriological evaluation of the milk from the affected quarter. Platelet concentrate, alone or in association with antibiotic, was used for 3 consecutive days as an unconventional therapy in bovine acute and chronic mastitis. Our data show that the associated action of antibiotic and PC performed significantly better than the antibiotic alone, either for the recovery of the affected mammary quarters or for somatic cell count reduction. In the same way, the association antibiotic plus PC showed significantly fewer relapses compared with the antibiotic alone, either for acute or chronic mastitis. The treatment with only PC did not show statistically significant differences compared with both antibiotic alone or associated treatment for acute mastitis, and it was better than the use of only antibiotic for chronic mastitis. Our results show that PC alone may be useful for a quick resolution of the inflammatory response, playing a role in limiting the tissue damage to the mammary gland parenchyma and reducing the recurrence rates.
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    ABSTRACT: Aim: To compare clinical and bacteriological cure rates of clinical mastitis following treatment with either antimicrobials or homeopathic preparations. Methods: Seven spring-calving herds from the Waikato region of New Zealand were used to source cases of clinical mastitis (n = 263 glands) during the first 90 days following calving. Duplicate milk samples were collected for bacteriology from each clinically infected gland at diagnosis and 25 (SD 5.3) days after initial treatment. Affected glands were treated with either an antimicrobial formulation or a homeopathic remedy. Generalised linear models with binomial error distribution and logit link were used to analyse the proportion of cows that were clinical treatment cures and the proportion of glands that were classified as bacteriological cures, based on initial and post-treatment milk samples. Results: Mean cumulative incidence of clinical mastitis was 7% (range 2-13% across herds) of cows. Streptococcus uberis was the most common pathogen isolated from culture-positive samples from affected glands (140/209; 67%). The clinical cure rate was higher for cows treated with antimicrobials (107/113; 95%) than for cows treated with homeopathic remedies (72/114; 63%) (p < 0.001) based on the observance of clinical signs following initial treatment. Across all pathogen types bacteriological cure rate at gland level was higher for those cows treated with antimicrobials (75/102; 74%) than for those treated with a homeopathic preparation (39/107; 36%) (p < 0.001). Conclusions and clinical relevance: Using herds located in the Waikato region of New Zealand, homeopathic remedies had significantly lower clinical and bacteriological cure rates compared with antimicrobials when used to treat post-calving clinical mastitis where S. uberis was the most common pathogen. The proportion of cows that needed retreatment was significantly higher for the homeopathic treated cows. This, combined with lower bacteriological cure rates, has implications for duration of infection, individual cow somatic cell count, costs associated with treatment and animal welfare.
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