Oils show promise against mastitis
From the December 2012 edition of Agriculture Today.
Lynne Appleby measures the affect of lemon myrtle oil on Staphylococcus aureus growing on an 80 per cent milk agar in an animal and veterinary sciences laboratory at Charles Sturt University. (Photo: Toni Nugent)
Plant essential oils could treat mastitis, either in a stand-alone formula or as an adjunct to antibiotics with a view to reduce the use of antibiotics in the dairy industry.
“With the current trend to reduce antibiotic usage in food stuffs destined for the human food chain, it has become necessary to re-evaluate their efficacy,” said Lynne Appleby, Graham Centre and Charles Sturt University PhD student.
Many plant essential oils are already known to display both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
“Preliminary research has shown that essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree have activity against S. aureus and E. coli in vitro.
A range of essential oils will be screened against organisms known to cause mastitis in vitro, in specialised media developed to mimic milk.
Following this, an in vitro system to study the effects of oils in tissue samples from mastitic udder explants, both to test cellular toxicity and antibacterial activity will be developed before in vivo testing commences.
Results to date have shown a number of oils including basil, cinnamon leaf, citronella, clove leaf, lemon myrtle, lemon-scented tea tree, oregano and thyme have potential to be studied further as possible treatments.
“While it is known that some of these oils or their components are toxic to tissues, it is possible that below certain concentrations an effective dose may be obtainable,” Ms Appleby said.
“Additionally these oils may have increased activity when used in combination or when only certain components of the oils are used.”
It is only early days but current results are showing promise.
Lynne Appleby would be interested to hear from any farmers already using essential oils for prevention or treatment of mastitis.
Mastitis is an inflammatory disease of the mammary tissue and is a prevalent issue in the dairy industry worldwide.
Economic losses to the Australian dairy industry alone are in excess of $50 million per annum, primarily due to a reduction in milk production and the slaughter of animals no longer able to produce milk suitable for human consumption.
Infection is caused by a number of bacterial pathogens both environmental and infectious.
Current treatments involve the intra mammary injection of antibiotics with varied cure rates averaging about 50 per cent success.