DULUTH, Ga. — July 9, 2009 — Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) continues to be the most significant health problem in the beef industry.1 It is commonly caused by three factors — stress, bacterial agents and viral agents2 — which means producers are leaving money on the table if they are not helping protect calves from all elements of the BRD equation.
“Bovine respiratory disease is still the most costly disease in the beef industry and it only makes sense that we do everything we can to help minimize it,” says Dr. Chris Chase, professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, South Dakota State University. “Cow/calf producers regularly use four-way viral vaccines; however, there is no doubt that bacterial pneumonia also is an important cause of bovine respiratory disease and shipping fever.”
Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida are the major bacterial pathogens associated with bacterial pneumonia, which has been documented in 75 percent of BRD cases.
Dr. Chase says this is consistent with the findings he has seen in the university’s diagnostic lab, which is why he recommends that producers help calves fight these two important bacteria by vaccinating for them prior to weaning.
“If we vaccinate calves during preconditioning or while they are still on the cow, we can help minimize the spread of bacteria already present in the herd and help calves prepare to face the stress of weaning by raising their immunity to the disease,” Dr. Chase says.
M. haemolytica and P. multocida bacteria are normally found in the upper respiratory tract of healthy cattle and don’t cause a problem.3 However, when the animal’s defenses are compromised, such as during weaning or from a viral infection, the bacteria can get into the lower respiratory tract, reproduce rapidly and spread throughout the lungs — causing pneumonia.
Dr. Bruce Nosky, manager, Merial Veterinary Services, says producers can help calves fight off the effects of bacterial pneumonia this fall with a preconditioning program that includes a Pasteurella vaccine.
“Preconditioning programs are designed to give producers a proven protocol to prepare calves for the stress of weaning,” he says. “By using a program that includes a Pasteurella vaccine, such as the MERIAL® SUREHEALTH® Calf Preconditioning Program, producers can be sure they are helping protect calves against major causes of BRD.”
Dr. Nosky adds that when choosing a Pasteurella vaccine, it is important that producers use one that is effective against both major causes of bacterial pneumonia.
“Not all Pasteurella vaccines protect calves against both Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida,” he says. “RESPISHIELD HM is effective against both bacterial agents, which is especially important because recent data suggests that the incidence of Pasteurella multocida is increasing.”
The effects of Pasteurella pneumonia range from slight depression and lack of interest in eating to high fever, labored breathing, irreversible lung damage and even death.3 In a study, RESPISHIELD® HM was proven to reduce pneumonic lung tissue by 59 percent, mortality by 90 percent and depression by 57 percent.
“Producers can’t afford for calves to perform at less than 100 percent,” Dr. Nosky says. “By using RESPISHIELD HM in their fall preconditioning program, producers can help calves defend against the BRD equation, resulting in healthier calves and profits.”
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,400 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2008 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see www.merial.com.