Mycoplasma bovis-related disease can be tricky to identify and treat

November 17, 2010 - Whether it’s a cow/calf, stocker or feedlot operation, managing every aspect of a business can be a tricky task for today’s cattle producers. But, one of the most difficult duties producers often face is treating disease caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma bovis. 
In fact, M. bovis-related diseases are prevalent throughout the U.S. cattle population and cost beef producers $32 million each year in decreased rate of gain and carcass value.1
“M. bovis is one of the most common infectious agents connected to clinical cases of bovine respiratory disease (BRD),” says Daniel Scruggs, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. “M. bovis spreads rapidly within a population of comingled cattle — like backgrounding and feedlot operations — and evidence is mounting that it may initiate pneumonia, not just act as a secondary pathogen as was previously thought.”2,3   
M. bovis-related pneumonia may be difficult to recognize because cattle may not look sick early in the course of disease. This can result in delayed treatment and requires a longer course of therapy to achieve a clinical cure.  Unfortunately, by the time it’s obvious that a case of pneumonia or arthritis is due to M. bovis, it may be too late to achieve a satisfactory outcome, Dr. Scruggs adds.   
“Producers and veterinarians should rely on antimicrobials with proven effectiveness in terms of clinical response when treating cattle suspected of M. bovis-related pneumonia,” he says. “Early treatment and length of effective therapy are important in achieving a clinical cure regardless of the bacterial cause of pneumonia, but it is especially true for M. bovis.”
DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution is the only antimicrobial labeled for both treatment and control of BRD due to M. bovis — and one treatment can be as effective for up to 14 days. Dr. Scruggs also suggests producers that suspect their cattle of M. bovis-related disease should consult their veterinarians for proper diagnosis and treatment options. 
“We had a bout of M. bovis go through our pens a few years ago,” says Jeff Longnecker, Longnecker Cattle Company, Ames, Iowa. “Since then, we’ve started treating all cattle coming into our operation with DRAXXIN. We haven’t had a problem with M. bovis-related disease since, and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s because of DRAXXIN.”
Longnecker, who operates a cow/calf, backgrounding and feedlot operation, says he decided to start using DRAXXIN after years of frustration.  
“It seemed like we were always fighting disease and always pulling cattle — it was just a pain,” Longnecker says. “So, we started by giving DRAXXIN to 300 head and realized that we had reduced our pulls from 25 percent to 2 percent. We didn’t have any death loss either, and that’s what really sold me.”
Additionally, Longnecker says that using a premium product once, rather than re-treating with traditional products, actually helped to cut his costs in the long run. 
“The only thing more expensive than losing an animal is treating and re-treating the same animal — those are the ones that cost the most,” Longnecker says. “Raising cattle is already expensive. But, DRAXXIN really makes my life a lot easier, so it’s definitely worth the money to control BRD and have fewer pulls and death loss.”
Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. A pre-slaughter withdrawal time has not been determined for pre-ruminating calves. Effects on reproductive performance, pregnancy and lactation have not been determined. DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days. 
For more information, contact: 
Michelle Tollefson  
Pfizer Animal Health  

Rachel Torbert
Bader Rutter

1Calloway CD. Passive transfer of Mycoplasma bovis-specific antibodies in calves born to vaccinated dams. 2006. 
2Gourlay RN, Houghton SB. Experimental pneumonia in conventionally reared and gnotobiotic calves by dualinfection with Mycoplasma bovis and Pasteurella haemolytica.  Res Vet Sci. 1985;38(3):377-82.
3Gagea MI, et al.  Diseases and pathogens associated with mortality in Ontario beef feedlots. J Vet Diagn. Invest 18:18028 20006.
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