Israeli and UTIA Scientists Receive Grant to Study Bovine Mastitis in Dairy Cows


Dairy cow, courtesy of UTIA.
Bovine mastitis is a persistent infection in the mammary gland that causes inflamed udders, reduced milk production, and low-quality milk and is considered the most economically important disease affecting the dairy industry worldwide, costing producers billions of dollars annually. This highly contagious infection is caused by a variety of bacteria, including mycoplasma that is transferred to cows through contaminated milking equipment or the milker’s hands, and from animal to animal. No effective antimicrobial treatment exists at this time so the only means of control are a combination of identification, segregation and culling. Therefore, importance is placed on prevention and separating infected cows from the rest of the herd to minimize spread.

Recently, the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Fund awarded a grant to support bovine mastitis research conducted by scientists in Israel and at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA). The international team, led by Inna Lysnyansky, research scientist with Israel’s Kimron Veterinary Institute, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and including research associate professor Raul A. Almeida and assistant professor Oudessa Kerro Dego in the UTIA Department of Animal Science, and associate professor Nahum Shpigel in the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is investigating mechanisms that mycoplasma bacteria use to cause bovine mastitis. Their goal is to understand the infectious process caused by mycoplasmas, which ultimately will lead to the development of protocols to control predisposing causes of infection and preventing the occurrence of this disease. Their findings could have implications beyond bovine mastitis. Since this mycoplasma species also causes other infections in cattle, such as pneumonia, abortions, and arthritis, it is possible that the results of this investigation could be applied for the control of these other infections.

“International collaborations are critical for driving innovations that can be used to address global challenges. In the U.S. alone, losses to the dairy industry are estimated at $2 billion annually; building partnerships with international scientists can lead to quicker, affordable, applicable solutions not only for Tennessee, but also for the world.” - Tom Gill, Smith Chair for International Sustainable Agriculture, UTIA

Further Information:

Contact: Raul A. Almeida,, 865-974-0991

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