Many of the infectious diseases found on dairy farms have a negative impact on production and profitability.  Animals may become clinically ill and need veterinary care, and some may die, but many infected animals do not show noticeable clinical signs. These animals might have reduced milk yield or weight loss and often have the most significant impact on profitability. Being able to properly identify and monitor diseases of dairy cattle is an important step in preventing side effects from these situations. Most diseases can be easily tested for and, once the cause is identified, a plan can be made for control, eradication, or prevention.

ELISA and real-time PCR tests provide complementary information about an infection. A combination of ELISA tests (for antibody detection) and real-time PCR tests (for pathogen detection), when used at the right time in the disease's progression, can give veterinarians and farmers a more complete picture of the infection. This can help them detect disease earlier and make management decisions much faster to stop the spread of disease and, ultimately, save money.

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Read about the range of diagnostic tests Thermo Fisher Scientific offers to help you diagnose common diseases of dairy cattle:

Johne’s Disease, or paratuberculosis, is a worldwide animal health problem affecting ruminants. It is caused by infection with Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP). The presence of the disease can have serious production-limiting consequences and may cause significant economic loss in herds. The disease is difficult to diagnose because due to long incubation times. It is crucial to identify subclinical disease in animals that can shed the organism over long periods, acting as the source of infection for other members of the herd. The combined use of different diagnostic test methods, such as ELISA and real-time PCR tests, helps to identify and remove “shedders” earlier, thus helping to reduce the hazard of infection for other healthy animals.

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Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) is endemic in many cattle-producing countries and is a cause of considerable economic loss within the dairy industries. Cattle of all ages are susceptible to BVD, with most cases of overt clinical disease seen in cattle between six months and two years old.

The BVD virus crosses the placenta in infected pregnant cows, causing reproductive losses due to abortion, stillborn calves, or calves that die early in life. When cows become infected between days 30 and 150 of gestation, surviving calves become persistently infected (PI) with virus. PI cattle are the main source of virus transmission, shedding large amounts of virus in their secretions and excretions. As a result, most eradication and control programs focus on elimination of PI animals and preventing the transmission of BVD virus to healthy cattle within a herd.

Our VetMAX BVDV Detection kits are rapid, easy-to-use PCR-based testing solutions that detect BVDV PI cattle with an exceptional level of specificity, sensitivity, and reproducibility.

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Because bovine mastitis can cause significant losses, farmers and herd managers need quick diagnostic results so they can take fast and appropriate action. Traditionally, culture has been used for the diagnosis of mastitis infections, but results can take a long time and pathogens can be difficult to grow, especially for Mycoplasma species.

Our multiplex qPCR and sample extraction solutions, the Applied Biosystems MagMAX CORE Nucleic Acid Purification Kit with the MagMAX CORE Panbacteria & Mastitis Module, are designed to provide same-day results even for Mycoplasma species, enabling farmers and veterinarians to take immediate and well-informed action.

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VetMAX MastiType multiplex qPCR Kits and Workflow Solutions

Applied Biosystems VetMAX MastiType multiplex qPCR kits together with the Applied Biosystems MagMAX CORE Nucleic Acid Purification Kit, are designed to provide same-day results

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Of the over 100 Mycoplasma species that have been described, Mycoplasma bovis is especially pathogenic for cattle, causing respiratory disease and arthritis in young animals and mastitis in adult animals. Antibiotic treatment is not efficient for this highly contagious pathogen. The cost of M. bovis infection in cattle is estimated at $140 million annually in the United States. Even higher losses—estimated at €144 to €192 million—have been reported in Europe*.

M. bovis infections have been reported worldwide in the bovine industry, yet the prevalence of this pathogen is often underestimated due to difficulties in diagnosis. The traditional method of bacterial culture is difficult and time-consuming, requiring specific media and an extended culture time.

Our ready-to-use PCR kit enables an easy and fast diagnosis of this pathogen in milk, preserved milk, organ tissue, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and synovial fluid samples.

*Nicholas RA, Ayling RD (2003) Mycoplasma bovis: disease, diagnosis, and control. Res Vet Sci 74(2):105–112.

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Repeated abortions in a herd or flock are a dramatic event for farmers and can have a severe economic impact on farming operations. A wide range of pathogens—some with zoonotic potential—may be the cause. The key to correcting abortion problems is to identify the potential causes, in order to prevent future abortions. The vast number of potential infectious agents makes fast and accurate diagnosis a challenge. Combining PCR and serological diagnostic tools can help increase the elucidation rate of aborted cases.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a large portfolio of direct and indirect detection products for 19 abortion pathogens.

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Respiratory diseases of cattle cause significant economic losses worldwide in the dairy industry. Costs include direct costs for treatment and indirect costs such as those associated with reduced growth of calves and later first calving. The bovine respiratory disease (BRD) complex can be caused by a host of pathogens, both bacterial and viral. Depending on the organism(s) involved, death from BRD can occur within 24 to 36 hours of symptoms appearing, or the infection can become chronic, causing widespread, permanent lung damage for which no cure is available. The animal may survive, but performance will be impacted. Early recognition and treatment of respiratory diseases is therefore extremely important.

Numerous pathogens can contribute to respiratory disease in calves. Common bacterial pathogens include Pasteurella multocida, Mannheimiahaemolytica, Haemophilus somnus, and Mycoplasma. Viral pathogens include parainfluenza, bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV).

Pathogenic agent


Real-Time PCR

Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)

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Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV)


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Histophilus somni


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Mannheimia haemolytica


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Mycoplasma agalactiae


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Mycoplasma bovis


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Parainfluenza type 3 (PI3) virus


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Pasteurella multocida


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The detection of seven respiratory pathogens (Coronavirus species, H. somni, M. bovis, M. haemolytica, P. multocida, PI3, respiratory syncytial virus) simultaneously in a single sample offers a quick and easy way to diagnose infectious respiratory agents in cattle. 

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For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.