Molecular epidemiology and strain-specific characteristics of Streptococcus agalactiae at the herd and cow level

Y. S. Mahmmod, I. C. Klaas, J. Katholm, M. Lutton, R. N. Zadoks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Host-adaptation of Streptococcus agalactiae subpopulations has been described whereby strains that are commonly associated with asymptomatic carriage or disease in people differ phenotypically and genotypically from those causing mastitis in dairy cattle. Based on multilocus sequence typing (MLST), the most common strains in dairy herds in Denmark belong to sequence types (ST) that are also frequently found in people. The aim of this study was to describe epidemiological and diagnostic characteristics of such strains in relation to bovine mastitis. Among 1,199 cattle from 6 herds, cow-level prevalence of S. agalactiae was estimated to be 27.4% based on PCR and 7.8% based on bacteriological culture. Quarter-level prevalence was estimated at 2.8% based on bacteriological culture. Per herd, between 2 and 26 isolates were characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and MLST. Within each herd, a single PFGE type and ST predominated, consistent with a contagious mode of transmission or point source infection within herds. Evidence of within-herd evolution of S. agalactiae was detected with both typing methods, although ST belonged to a single clonal complex (CC) per herd. Detection of CC23 (3 herds) was associated with significantly lower approximate count (colony-forming units) at the quarter level and significantly lower cycle threshold value at the cow level than detection of CC1 (2 herds) or CC19 (1 herd), indicating a lower bacterial load in CC23 infections. Median values for the number of infected quarters and somatic cell count (SCC) were numerically but not significantly lower for cows infected with CC23 than for cows with CC1 or CC19. For all CC, an SCC threshold of 200,000 cells/mL was an unreliable indicator of infection status, and prescreening of animals based on SCC as part of S. agalactiae detection and eradication campaigns should be discouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number73827
Pages (from-to)6913-6924
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Dairy Science Association.


  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Multilocus sequence typing
  • Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
  • Streptococcus agalactiae


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular epidemiology and strain-specific characteristics of Streptococcus agalactiae at the herd and cow level'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this