Last summer we had the distinct misfortune of purchasing a beautiful Brown Swiss cow. The unfortunate part? Unbeknownst to us and her breeder, she was subclinically infected with one nasty, sinister, extremely contagious and difficult to eradicate form of mastitis. When we purchased her, I tried asking around as to what I disease testing ought to be done, but no one thought to suggest sending a sample of her milk in to be checked for contagious mastitis, also known as Staphylococcus Aureus or Staph A for short. (by the way, always send milk samples in for testing whenever possible before you purchase a cow!) The diagnosis was grim to say the least, particularly since I didn’t figure out what was going on until she had been in milk several months. Since the infection was subclinical, the only noticeable symptom had been a painful udder, which I mistook for her just being and ornery nasty cow. I tested Mama cow, my sweet old Jersey who I happened to be milking at the same time, and I was mortified to receive a positive result back.
Put the cows down. That was the advice I was given. Put down my two cows, that I loved and had invested so much time and money into, and not only that, but there was a high likelihood that one or both of the cows that I wasn’t currently milking would come up positive for at their next freshening just from being around the contaminated milk. Put down the cows.
I couldn’t accept this. Every site I read, every expert I consulted, insisted they were a lost cause. Until I lucked into a conversation about my dilemma on facebook, with someone who had successfully treated Staph A. She warned me like I am about to warn you; it doesn’t always work, and it is far less likely to work if you don’t catch it soon enough, but it is worth trying.
The solution is simple. Colloidal silver and DMSO infused into each quarter using sanitary disposable teat cannulas twice a day for a week. Staph a is highly antibiotic resistant, is capable to walling itself off in the animal’s tissue, and is less susceptible to treatment in the presence of milk. While staph is susceptible to colloidal silver, the challenge to be overcome is its ability to penetrate tissue and wall itself off.
That is where DMSO comes in. This solvent, a literal bi-product from wood processing, has the unique ability to pass through tissues. It has been used to carry antibiotics and other medicine deep into live tissues, and that is precisely what it does in this situation. The problem is that it can carry harmful chemicals and apparently even bacteria just as well, so you MUST use extremely strict sanitation while executing this treatment. The cannulas should be disposable, the udder should be washed and sterilized, hands should have gloves and the syringe used should be sanitized carefully before each treatment. This is a time consuming and tedious process, but it can work, which is more than can be said for most other treatment strategies.
Here is the outline for the specific treatment protocol.
1 60 ml Syringe per quarter (you can get away with one per cow in a pinch, but DO NOT use on more than one cow)
I have provided links for your convenience, though most of these items (other than the cannulas) are easily found elsewhere. The colloidal silver can be procured much more cheaply per ounce if you build or buy a machine to make it at home, but that is only worth it if you plan on making quite a lot.
The procedure is quite simple.
- Wash udder paying special attention to teat ends
2. Glove up
3. Milk the cow out completely
5. Sanitize teats with with Fight Bac spray
6. Apply clean gloves
7. Draw 55 mls colloidal silver, and 5 mls DMSO into the syringe
8. Insert the cannula into the cow’s teat and carefully depress the plunger
(Some cows find this quite objectionable, but others don’t seem bothered, so it may be a good idea to tie the near leg back as a precaution.)
9. Dispose of used cannula and replace with a clean one (being careful to no touch the portion that is to be inserted into the teat opening)
10. Repeat steps 8. and 9. for all four quarters.
I treated my two cows in this fashion twice a day for a week. The Swiss cow’s symptoms improved dramatically (the udder pain that is), but sadly, regardless of retreating her a few weeks later she never tested clean. Thankfully, I was able to save my Jersey, and that made it worth ALL of the time and effort and emotion to treat. We ended up having to butcher the Swiss cow, which was very devastating for me, but because she was never treated with antibiotics, it left her perfectly safe to consume.
This summer my other two cows freshened, one came up positive for Staph and the other negative. I repeated the treatment protocol on the infected cow and got her to test clean again.
This is one of those diseases that can theoretically lie dormant in the tissue, so it is best practice to keep re-testing the affected animal periodically and treat her milk as though it could be contagious at any time. Once a cow is testing clean I feel comfortable drinking her milk again, but I wouldn’t go spraying it on your pastures or exposing other cows to it. Staph A is extremely devastating, but I hope that with this information at least a few people may find hope for their animals!