Act Now To Avoid Pneumonia Peak

UK - Cases of viral pneumonia in cattle peaked in January last winter, according to data from SAC Consulting’s Veterinary Services, prompting advice to farmers from industry vets that vaccination of vulnerable animals just before housing is an essential aspect of good management practice.
calendar icon 15 September 2010
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In the Veterinary Record, SAC says an increase in the number of outbreaks of respiratory disease is anticipated, and therefore “recommends the continued promotion of respiratory disease vaccines in housed cattle, along with good management practice”.

The three viruses identified by SAC in the January peak are RSV, PI3 and bovine herpes virus type 1, the cause of IBR. In addition to these, Pfizer Animal Health vet William Sherrard recommends that vaccination programmes should cover the immuno-suppressive BVD virus and offer at least six months duration of immunity for winter-long protection.

In beef cattle, he says a study looking at growth rates and health records from 469 cattle after slaughter found a six per cent live weight penalty in those with lung damage compared with healthy cattle. Over a six month winter, this means affected cattle would take 11 days longer than healthy ones to reach the same live weight.

Similarly, in dairy heifers, Mr Sherrard adds that pneumonia during the first three months of life has been found to reduce first lactation milk yield by 2.2 per cent and increase age at first calving by two weeks.

As a matter of urgency, he urges farmers to contact their veterinary surgeon for advice about autumn vaccination of susceptible growing cattle against the four key viruses commonly associated with respiratory disease.

Figure 1: Viral causes of bovine respiratory disease diagnosed by SAC C VS, 2009 to 2010

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