Mastitis in dairy cows costs the New Zealand dairy industry an estimated $300 million per year.
The environmental pathogen, Streptococcus uberis is a common cause of mastitis in many countries and over the past two decades it has become the leading cause of clinical and subclinical mastitis in New Zealand dairy herds.
With funding from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, researchers at the Hopkirk Research Institute in Palmerston North, in collaboration with DairyNZ are working on increasing our understanding of protective immunity to mastitis and are developing a vaccine for S. uberis mastitis.
Researchers at Ruakura are investigating the inflammatory pathways in the mammary gland which are triggered during mastitis. A number of milk-derived host defense proteins with antimicrobial and immune activity have been identified and studies are underway to evaluate these as natural treatments for mastitis or components of high-value functional foods.