27 Jan 2016

Scientist developing new treatment for mastitis

6:19 pm on 27 January 2016

A research fellow at the University of Otago has been awarded a grant to develop a treatment for mastitis which costs the New Zealand dairy industry over $280 million each year in treatment and discarded milk.

Organic Jersey cow on a Rongotea farm.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the udder.

Adam Heikal said the goal of the project was to use recent landmark advances in human biomedical drug discovery to develop the next generation treatment for mastitis.

Dr Heikal said the project team intended to discover new antimicrobials for animal health that specifically inhibited the growth and metabolism of mastitis causing micro-organisms.

"It provides more security for the dairy farmer to know that they can use something that is not going to become obsolete. Chlorhexidine in itself, which is what's used in teat sprays at the moment, works well however there's a lot of concern about resistance arising to that treatment.

"And of course with the various dairy product scares such as melamine, DCD and things like that in milk, we want something that's not going to be turning up in milk. So it's a two fold thing.

"On the one hand we're going to get a really good cost effective treatment for mastitis and on the other hand we are going to avoid any sort of regulatory problems further down the track."