J Dairy Sci. 2021 Apr 7:S0022-0302(21)00492-6. doi: 10.3168/jds.2020-19480. Online ahead of print.
Subclinical mastitis (SCM) represents a significant burden and challenge to modern dairy management. Multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli (MDR E. coli) in milk poses a public health threat to humans especially via the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products. This study aimed to determine the occurrence of MDR E. coli in cows and buffalo in the households of the western part of the Chitwan district of Nepal. A total of 243 lactating cows and buffalo were included in this study. Milk samples (n = 972) were screened using the California Mastitis Test (CMT). The E. coli was isolated from milk samples that were positive for CMT using standard bacteriological protocols. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to farmers to identify the risk factors associated with the occurrence of SCM in cows and buffalo. Of the 243 dairy animals screened, 42.8% (n = 104/243) showed positive CMT results. However, of the 972 quarters sampled, only 19.3% (n = 188/972) were positive for SCM. The prevalence of E. coli in these animals was found to be 16.5% in animals (n = 40/243). However, E. coli was isolated from only 5% (n = 49/972) of the quarters. Of the 49 E. coli isolated, the resistance to ceftriaxone (38.8%, n = 19/49) and ciprofloxacin (37.7%, n = 17/49) were the most prevalent. Animals with a history of mastitis were 3.57 times more likely to have SCM than other animals. Similarly, lactating animals with previous teat abrasions were 3.22 times more likely to develop SCM than animals without teat injuries. As expected, cleaning the barn once in 2 to 3 d was associated with an increased occurrence of SCM in lactating cows. This study reports the occurrence of MDR E. coli in SCM, which poses a public health threat. Creating awareness of milk pasteurization, and food safety practices are necessary among the farmers.