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Streptococcus spp


Veronica Fowler

Tammy Hassel




  • Kingdom: bacteria.
  • Phylum: firmicutes.
  • Class: bacilli.
  • Order: lactobacillales.
  • Family: streptococcaceae.
  • Genus: streptococcus.


  • Streptococcus grow in chains or pairs. The name comes from the Greek word Streptós  - twisted, pliant, (like a chain) and is couple with the modern Latin coccus - spherical bacterium, derived from the Greek word for berry, 'Kokkos'.

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Clinical Effects



  • Distributed worldwide.
  • Found on the skin, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory and lower urogenital tract and within the digestive system.


  • Cells divide by binary fission to produce pairs or chains.


  • Transmission can occur through poor udder health management (use of a common cloth and failure to use post milking teat disinfection).
  • Environment-to-cow (eg via contaminated bedding). 
  • Occasionally from other species (eg dogs and cats - S. canis).
  • Through contamination from carrier flying insects.

Pathological effects

  • Immunological:
    • Host defense depends on phagocytosis.
    • Hyaluronic acid capsules antiphagocytic.
    • Antibodies raised against M protein, an antiphagocytic surface protein.
    • Recovered animals have short-term resistance to infection.
    • Immunity is serotype-specific.
  • Pathological:
    • Pyogenic bacteria produce suppurative host response.
    • Adhesins mediate attachment.
    • Extracellular products include streptolysin O and S, hyaluronidase, protease, streptokinase, streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxins.
    • Virulence mechanisms of highly pathogenic infections are unresolved.

Other Host Effects

  • Reduced milk production.
  • Septicemia.


Control via animal

  • Early dry-off, with dry cow therapy Dry cow therapy.
  • Isolate and treat/cull infected animals.
  • Isolate and treat exposed animals.
  • Implementation of standard mastitis prevention measures.
  • Older animals can be more susceptible (eg S. uberis) therefore they should be intensively monitored.
  • Vaccination has been proven to increase resistance to infection.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Antibiotic treatment.

Control via environment

  • Implementation of good hygiene practices.
  • Use of separate protective clothing (glove, mask, footwear, etc) when examining infected animals.
  • Controlling contact between cattle and other species such as cats and dogs.


  • There are vaccines available for some species which are commonly used in the USA:
    • S.uberis (eg Streptococcus uberis bacterin-Hygieia biological laboratories).
  • There are UK companies (eg Ridgeway Biologicals) which will make tailored emergency vaccines against S.uberis specific for the herd affected.  


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Clarke L L, Fathke R L, Sanchez S & Stanton J B (2016) Streptococcus bovis/S. equinus complex septicemia in a group of calves following intramuscular vaccination. J Vet Diagn Invest 28 (4), 423-8 PubMed.
  • Shome B R, Bhuvana M, Mitra S D et al (2012) Molecular characterization of Streptococcus agalactiae and Streptococcus uberis isolates from bovine milk. Trop Anim Health Prod 44 (8), 1981-92 PubMed.
  • Whist A C, Østerås O & Sølverød L (2007) Streptococcus dysgalactiae isolates at calving and lactation performance within the same lactation. J Dairy Sci 90 (2), 766-78 PubMed.
  • Tikofsky L L & Zadoks R N (2005) Cross-infection between cats and cows: origin and control of Streptococcus canis mastitis in a dairy herd. J Dairy Sci 88 (8), 2707-13 PubMed.
  • Zadoks R N, Gillespie B E, Barkema H W, Sampimon O C, Oliver S P & Schukken Y H (2003) Clinical, epidemiological and molecular characteristics of Streptococcus uberis infections in dairy herds. Epidemiol Infect 130 (2), 335-49 PubMed.
  • Zadoks R N, Allore H G, Barkema H W, Sampimon O C, Wellenberg G J, Gröhn Y T & Schukkent Y H (2001) Cow- and quarter-level risk factors for Streptococcus uberis and Staphylococcus aureus mastitis. J Dairy Sci 84 (12), 2649-63 PubMed.
  • Phuektes P, Mansell P D, Dyson R S, Hooper N D, Dick J S & Browning G F (2001) Molecular epidemiology of Streptococcus uberis isolates from dairy cows with mastitis. J Clin Microbiol 39 (4), 1460-6.
  • Bramley A J (1982) Sources of Streptococcus uberis in the dairy herd. I. Isolation from bovine faces and from straw bedding of cattle. J Dairy Res 49 (3), 369-73.

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