Molecular subtyping of mastitis-associated Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates shows high levels of diversity within and between dairy herds

Paulin-Curlee, GG, Sreevatsan S, Singer RS, Isaacson R, Reneau J, Bey R, Foster D
Journal of Dairy Science 91:554-563

Despite advances in controlling mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland), udder infections caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae continue to affect dairy cattle. Mastitis caused by K. pneumoniae responds poorly to antibiotic treatment, and as a consequence, infections tend to be severe and long lasting. We sought to determine whether a nonrandom distribution of specific genotypes of K. pneumoniae was associated with mastitis from 6 dairy herds located in 4 different states. A total of 635 isolates were obtained and fingerprinted by repetitive DNA sequence PCR. Significant genetic diversity was observed in 4 of the 6 dairy herds analyzed, and a total of 49 genotypic variants were identified. Within a herd, Simpson’s diversity indices were 91.0, 94.1, 91.7, 88.6, 53.3, and 64.3% for dairies A, B, C, D, E, and F, respectively. The association between matrices of genetic similarity and matrices of temporal distance was negative in all the dairies analyzed. Four dairies had a high incidence of K. pneumoniae mastitis during the winter. The majority of genotypes were unique to herds of origin, and only 5 genotypes were detected in more than 2 dairies. Genotype 1 (arbitrary designation) occurred most frequently across dairies and was found in 25.2% of all mastitis cases and among 22.8% of reinfected and culled cows in dairy A. Specific genotypes also tended to be associated with a specific bedding type and dairy location. Analysis of molecular variance showed that 18% of the genetic diversity was due to variation among herds within states, and 82% of the genetic diversity was accounted for by variation of genotypes within herds. The data support the idea that mastitis is caused by a diverse group of K. pneumoniae genotypes and thus has major implications for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of udder infections in dairy cows.