Prevalence Of Mastitis And Associated Risk Factors In Lactating One-Humped Camels In West Pokot County, Kenya
In spite of it living in harsh environments of semiarid and arid zones, the dromedary camel is able to produce milk in valuable quantity. Camel milk is one of the main components of diet of the nomads in semiarid and arid zones and is an essential food for livelihood of people and it may be the only milk available in the ASALs where other milking animals cannot be maintained. However, like other dairy animals, dromedary camels could be affected by udder infections such as mastitis, a complex disease occurring worldwide among dairy animals, with heavy economic losses largely due to clinical and subclinical mastitis. A cross sectional study was conducted to determine the prevalence of mastitis and to identify the associated risk factors in 95 clinically healthy lactating and traditionally managed one-hump camels (Camelus dromedarius) in Kongelai, Kacheliba, Konyao, Kasei, Kiwawa and Alale divisions of West Pokot County, Kenya. Fifty two households were conveniently selected from a list provided by Kenya Camel Association West Pokot County based on the presence of a lactating camel in the household. Data on camel management including milking procedures were collected through interviews using closed ended questionnaires. A total of 380 quarter milk samples (56 from Kongelai division, 40 from Kacheliba division, 8 from Konyao division, 148 from Kiwawa division, 92 from Kasei division and 36 from Alale division) were collected aseptically. The samples were transported in cool boxes with ice packs to the Bacteriology Laboratory at the Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi for bacterial culture. Of the 380 quarter milk samples cultured, 169 samples tested positive for subclinical mastitis which gave a prevalence of quarter infection at 44.5% (169/380). At animal (camel) level the prevalence of subclinical mastitis was 76.8% (73/95 camels).Therefore the results of this study showed that subclinical mastitis is prevalent in dromedary camels of West Pokot County. The same results showed that, the right hind XV quarter (RHQ) was the most frequently infected quarter (prevalence of 12.1% (46/380)) followed by the right fore quarter (RFQ) (prevalence of 11.3% (43/380)). The two left quarters, left fore quarter (LFQ) &left hind quarter (LHQ) were least infected. This could point out that the Pokot herders tended to milk the right quarters more often and left the left quarters to be suckled by the calves and because of poor & unhygienic milking procedures the right quarters become more infected. The most predominant isolated bacterium was gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus with prevalence of 36.0% (49/136) followed by gram-negative Escherichia coli with prevalence of 27.2% (37/136). Streptococcus agalactiae & Staphylococcus epidermidis were the third predominant isolates with prevalence of 9.6% (13/136) each. Micrococcus spp & Pseudomonas were least isolated with less than 1% prevalence each. A diagnosis of ‘no bacterial growth’ was made in 22 cases; which translates to 16.2% (22/136). Several mastitis control strategies need to be put in place such as milking procedures, milking order, strict hygiene, post milking teat disinfection, use of antibiotic dry-off therapy and the culling of persistently infected camels. Significant (p<0.05) differences in subclinical mastitis prevalence were observed between camels in different lactating stages and parities. Camels in more than two months lactation stages were affected at higher rate (OR=2.75, p<0.05) than those in less than two months lactation stages. Also camels which had given birth to more than two calves (second parity or more) were affected at higher rate (OR=2.90, p<0.05) compared to camels which have given birth to less than two calves. The fact that the pathogens isolated from camel milk samples in this study were bacteria that cause both environmental and contagious mastitis, this study concludes that proper management of lactating camels and adequate hygienic conditions of the environment are required in order to minimize occurrence of mastitis in the study areas. It also recommends treatments of camels with mastitis infections using the conventional drugs and avoid non-conventional treatment.