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Mastitis in dairy cows in Rwanda: characterization, prevalence, etiology , molecular epidemiology and effects on milk quality

Published 2017-10-23

This PhD-project is run by SLU and granted by Sida. SVA and University of Rwanda are partner organisations. The project will evaluate the prevalence and risk factors of sub-clinical mastitis in Rwanda. Subsequently the study will characterize the etiology, antimicrobial resistance of the sub-clinical mastitis causative pathogens and the impacts of sub-clinical mastitis and hygiene on the milk quality within the dairy chain in Rwanda. Furthermore, the study will genotype the causative pathogens in order to gain understanding on characteristics of pathogens including distribution, spread, persistence, virulence, and prognosis.


Background


Dairy cows have a great cultural and economic importance in Rwanda. The cattle population and milk production have increased recently due to national programs such as Girinka Munyarwanda: one cow per poor family, that distribute dairy cows to Rwandans in order to enhance nutritional and food security.  Challenges in achieving the vision of quality milk production include the lack of updated research on prevention practices against major dairy cow pathogens; those causing mastitis being at forefront. Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture has put appropriate research as number one among four priorities that aims at increasing dairy production and productivity. The prevalence rate of mastitis was 64% in a limited study. Mastitis not only decrease milk yield but also causes high veterinary cost, increase culling rate, affects milk quality negatively and causes occasional fatalities among affected cows. Moreover, mastitis leads to an increased use of antibiotics, which could lead to problems with antimicrobial resistance. Mastitis continues to be a costly problem in dairy cattle not only in Rwanda but worldwide. The causative agents of bovine mastitis vary greatly among countries, regions, farms and between types of mastitis because of different management systems. Genotyping species of the causative pathogen is an important tool in understanding bovine mastitis dynamics.
The milk processing industry in Rwanda incurs losses due to mastitis. Losses are linked to antibiotics in milk, and impaired quality of the milk. This is exacerbated with lack of validated standards on eg. somatic cell count guidelines. Certainly, research on subclinical mastitis disease in dairy cows in Rwanda is needed to respond to the myriad of problems the disease causes especially due to ongoing efforts to increase high milk producing breeds which are more susceptible to mastitis.