Farm animal problem solving (Proceedings)
The majority of food animal veterinarians do their best to make the most appropriate decisions for their clients' livestock. But there are times when we simply don't know what the best decision is. Likewise, there are times when a "new" procedure or "new" product is suggested by the client or one of our colleagues that we are unaware of or have not tried. Problem solving requires the use of multiple sources to educate oneself about the particular problem. Ultimately, we would like to have scientific studies that document the solution. When scientific studies have not been done or have not solved the current dilemma, other resources should be investigated. These resources include: veterinary textbooks, medical textbooks, known experts in the field and known experts within our immediate work environment, on-line veterinary resources such as VIN (Veterinary Information Network), Cornell Consultant (good for differentials of diseases but also good because it lists references), list-serves such as AABP and AASRP (American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners) can be especially helpful. The world-wide web has put information at our fingertips and various documents (extension publications and association publications) and information is readily available. Probably the least reliable resources are personal testimonials regarding methods or products, but sometimes this is all we get. No resource is infallible. Scientific studies can be misleading. Veterinary textbooks can and are wrong at times. What follows are real "problems" or issues that arose via treating/managing individual farm animal cases, via on-farm recommendations or calls from clients or other veterinarians.
Question 1. Is Mastoblast® H.P. efficacious for mastitis treatment or lowering SCC?
Short answer: Other than testimonials, no evidence of the product's efficaciousness could be found. No scientific studies published in peer-reviewed literature and no published studies that showed evidence for the product being effective in treating mastitis or lowering SCC could be found.To answer this question:
1. Google (or your preferred search engine) to find out about the product. I find out that it is a homeopathic formula for the treatment of mastitis in cows. It contains bryonia alba, carbo vegetabilis, Echinacea, laccaninum, lachesis, phytolacca decandra, ruta graveolens, silicea, sulphur, alcohol and distilled water. This of course leads to a whole bunch of organic items that I don't know anything about. The product is to be administered orally (or sprayed on the nose) @ 2 ml per head morning and evening for 10 days (although the directions vary somewhat depending on the site).....so cows are to be treated for 10 days, hmmm. Many clinical mastitis cases are clinically cured by 10 days with or without treatment (Roberson et al., 2004). Another website lists under warning: "for external use only". So being open-minded try to find scientific data.
2. Try Pubmed for scientific studies (others to try are NLM Gateway, ISI web of knowledge). No studies of Mastoblast come up.
3. Go back to Google and type in Mastoblast study: I can find testimonials easily. I can find literature from the company that mentions all the clinical trials and studies that have been performed. Although obtaining these articles was more trouble than I would expect most people to go through, our librarian was able to get a couple of proceedings papers (there were no published clinical trials or studies). One only says that "The incidence of mastitis cases have been reduced by using Arnica both orally and topically for bovine teat injuries" (Sheaffer, 1996a). Nothing else...no references or data. The other proceedings article contained an anecdotal account of how Mastoblast reduced the SCC in dairy herds (Sheaffer, 1996b). I found a patent document that actually included a 24-cow subclinical mastitis study on Mastoblast that was conducted at the University of Connecticut (SureChem, 2009). No actual data was presented. Results showed a significant effect for IgG1 only, yet the conclusion was that the actual incidence of mastitis in animals not receiving the homeopathic medication was much higher than those who received the homeopathic medication. This was a 60 day study and there were only 24 cows tota…. so I don't know what "much higher" really means.
4. Called the company to see where I could get their clinical trials. The company veterinarian was not in. I'm still waiting to be called back.