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2008, Vol. 3 No. 2, Article 28


Isolation of Candida spp. from Mastitic cows and Milkers

M. A. Tarfarosh* and S. K. Purohit

Department of Veterinary Medicine, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Bikaner


*Corresponding Author; Institute of Animal Health and Biological Products, Srinagar
Tel.: +91-98580-83322



Fifty six cases of bovine clinical mastitis were screened for presence of Candida spp. Of these Candida was isolated from milk of four cases (7.14%). The organism was also isolated from 80% of milkers of such animals.


Candida spp., mastitis, thrush, milkers.


Candida is the most common species isolated from cases of mycotic mastitis in bovines (Radostitis, 1995). The organism and its spores have the ability to survive pasteurization; as such it assumes public health significance and has been indicated in causation of thrush in humans (Schmitt, 1971).
Administration of antibiotics may aggravate fungal mastitis as Candida spp. utilize penicillin and tetracyclines as a source of nitrogen (Meek, 1981). The present study was undertaken to isolate Candida spp. from clinical cases of bovine mastitis and also from the buccal cavity of milkers.


Milk samples from 56 clinical cases of bovine mastitis were aseptically collected at the college clinic and other veterinary hospitals in Bikaner city. About 20ml of milk was collected from each affected animal after discarding first few strips. The samples were rushed to laboratory under cold conditions and incubated at 37°C for 24 hours and there after streaked on Saborauds glucose agar plates. The plates were incubated at 37°C and examined for growth at 24, 48 and 72 hours and at biweekly intervals for 4 weeks after which the plates showing no growth were considered negative.
Swabs from the buccal cavity of persons in close contact with cows showing fungal mastitis were aseptically collected and incubated in the same manner as the milk samples.

Identification of Candida spp.
Diagnostic mycology largely rests on a detailed study of morphological evolution of the isolates and has therefore been termed as “exercise in contemplative observation” (Ananthnarayan and Paniker, 1994).
During the present study too the identification of Candida spp. was done on the basis of study of colony characteristics, colour, microscopic exanimation of teased mounts with lacto-phenol cotton blue and Leishmans stain and formation of heavy dry pellicle on surface of broth and chlamydospore production on corn meal agar.


Out of the 56 cows suffering from clinical mastitis only 4 (7.14%) were found to harbour Candida infection. These findings are comparable with observations of Bansal et al (1991) and Singh et al (1992) who reported incidence of Candida mastitis as 8.51% and 5.71% respectively. Typical Candida colonies (fig 4) were observed on Saborauds agar plates. The microscopic examination of teased mounts revealed pseudo-hyphae, clusters of budding cells, blastospores and chlamydospores (fig 3 & 5). Clinical examination of the affected animals revealed inflammation, tenderness and hardening of the udder with secretion of watery milk containing yellowish clots (fig 1).
Milkers from these four cases of mycotic mastitis were screened for the presence of Candida spp. by swabs taken from their buccal cavities. Among these, 3 samples (75%) showed presence of Candida spp. on Saborauds glucose agar medium (fig 2 & 3). The tongues of the milkers showed rough and hard surface typical of Candida infection. Although Candida spp. is a normal commensal of oral mucosa but increased exposure due to proximity to affected animal and or consumption of infected milk could be the cause for development of thrush in these milkers. Schmitt (1971) has reported mastitis milk as a cause for thrush in humans.


  1. Ananthnarayan R and Panikar J. In: A text book of microbiology, Orient Longman ltd. Madras; 1994

  2. Kitamura H, Fuse K, Seo M and Itakura E.  Chronic mastitis caused by C. maltosa. Veterinary pathology. 1990; 27(6) 465-466.

  3. Kuo CC and Chang CH.  Isolation of fungi from the milk of dairy cow. J of Chinese Vety Sc. 1993; 19(4) 221-227

  4. Meek.  Cand Vet J. 1981; 22, 4,

  5. Radostitis OM, Blood DC and Gay CC. In: Veterinary Medicine, A text book of the Diseases of Cattle, Sheep, Pigs, Goats and Horses, ELBS; 1995

  6. Schmitt JA.  Epidemiological investigation of oral C. albicans. Review of Medical and Veterinary Mycology. 1971;10(1):218

Fig. 1:  Inflammation and hardening of udder with discoloration of milk

Candida mastitis Fig 1


Fig. 2:  Swabs were taken from the buccal mucosa of the milkers of affected cows

Candida Mastitis Fig 2


Fig. 3:  Microscopic slides of the growths obtained on Saborauds glucose agar medium

Candida mastitis Fig 3


Fig. 4:  Candida colonies on Saborauds agar plates

Candida Mastitis Fig 4


Fig. 5:  Another slide prepared from teased mounts

Candida Mastitis Fig 5



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