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Gey, Annerose; Werckenthin, Christiane; Poppert, Sven; Straubinger, Reinhard K. (May 2013): Identification of pathogens in mastitis milk samples with fluorescent in situ hybridization. In: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, Vol. 25, No. 3: pp. 386-394


Traditionally, the bacteriological examination of mastitis milk samples is performed by culture followed by biochemical tests on the cultured bacteria to allow identification of the causative pathogen. Depending on the species involved, this classic identification is time-consuming compared to other techniques such as fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), a culture-independent method that utilizes oligonucleotides (labeled with a fluorophore) that are specific to a string of target DNA/RNA. In the current study, the applicability of FISH was evaluated for the detection of mastitis pathogens directly in milk samples. To remove interfering lipids and proteins from mastitis milk samples prior to FISH, a previously published enzymatic treatment with savinase was evaluated. FISH was performed using oligonucleotides specific for Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus uberis, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, and Trueperella (Arcanobacterium) pyogenes. The enzymatic pretreatment and the sensitivity of FISH were evaluated using spiked whole milk samples and mastitis milk samples with bacterial loads of less than 10(3) up to 10(8) colony-forming units (CFU)/ml. Bacteria were reliably detected in milk samples with bacterial numbers of 10(6) CFU/ml or higher. However, bacteria present in numbers below 10(6) CFU/ml were not detectable in all cases. The ability of FISH to identify mastitis-causing pathogens directly in milk samples, and therefore earlier than classical culture methods, can supplement the classic diagnostic procedures for mastitis milk samples.