Summer Pneumonia In Beef Calves
Generally, mid to late summer is a time when cow-calf producers relax a little. Calving is over cows and calves are on summer pastures and typically it is a relatively uneventful time. But as summer progresses, producers should be on the lookout for summer calf pneumonia. Summer calf pneumonia is the term used to describe respiratory disease in pre-weaned calves on pasture. Over the past several years, this condition has been increasingly identified in beef herds. These outbreaks tend to be unpredictable, occurring in herds at all levels of management.
The infectious agents associated with summer calf pneumonia appear to be similar to those implicated in typical post-weaning bovine respiratory disease complex such as Mannheimia haemolytica, Histophilus somni, Pasteurella multocida, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus , and Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus . Compared to the post-weaning bovine respiratory disease encountered by animals entering backgrounding or feed lots, little is known about the risk factors that predispose calves to pneumonia while on pasture.
Some of the factors that have been speculated to be involved include the following.
Most reports are that treating calves with summer pneumonia is frequently successful. It is important to identify and treat affected calves early. While treatments appear successful, they are difficult and frustrating to accomplish on individual calves in pasture situations.
Richard Randle, DVM
Signs Mycoplasma Might Be Lurking In Your Cattle
News release by AgriLabs
Some of the calves you brought in a month ago have been pulled for pneumonia, but they arent responding well to treatment. Now youve noticed a few are showing signs of arthritis. Is it possible you got more than you planned with that new group of calves? If these symptoms remind you of animals in your herd, you might be facing a Mycoplasma infection. Mycoplasma is a more common pathogen than we realize, says Veterinarian Roger Winter, AgriLabs. Infected animals may slowly deteriorate and become chronic poor-doers, or even die. Since treatment is often unsuccessful, prevention is key. There are several Mycoplasma species, but the most problematic in beef cattle is Mycoplasma bovis. Research tells us that half of cattle with normal lungs carry M. bovis, but this pathogen is found in a whopping 98% of cattle with chronic pneumonia.1 In fact, M. bovis is an increasingly recognized cause of disease in feedlot cattle. Affected cattle invariably have a lung lesion, and 40%-60% also may develop arthritis and tendon inflammation that cause severe lameness.2 Morbidity rates in these cattle may reach 80%, with mortality rates often exceeding 20%.
Bovine Respiratory Disease In Cattle On
Bovine Respiratory Disease is the most common cause of illness and death in cattle triggered by a complex interaction of stress factors, viral and bacterial infections. A range of factors can predispose cattle and calves to BRD.
Stress can be caused by weaning, transport, sale yards, social restructuring, age, immunological background, dehydration and change of diet.
Viral infections include Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis and Pestivirus , whilst the bacteria Mannhaemia haemolytica is one of the most common and aggressive bugs involved in BRD.
In the early stages, BRD typically presents as inappetance with cattle appearing hunched and lethargic. As the disease progresses coughing and nasal discharge may be seen and cattle may appear depressed and withdrawn from the main herd. In many animals the disease may go unnoticed, silently impacting weight gain and meat quality.
Like people, cattle get colds. When one person gets a cold it doesnt take long for it to spread to others. Many of us work through having a cold and cattle are much the same however they have evolved to hide their symptoms to avoid being singled out by predators.
Research shows that BRD infections in young cattle are responsible for production losses impacting weight gain and meat quality1.
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Management Steps To Prevent Summer Pneumonia
Ensuring water and feed quality and quantity, providing adequate shade/shelter opportunities, addressing sanitation, and minimizing stress will go a long way to preventing pneumonia year-round. Whether on range, pasture, or in barns, animals should not be overcrowded and ventilation should be regularly assessed to ensure quality and lack of irritants.
A veterinarian should be consulted to develop an appropriate vaccination program. Many different vaccines and combinations are availablemostly for cattleand a veterinarian will be able to develop a farm-specific protocol based on goals, management practices, risks, and disease history. As with other extra-label drug use, vaccines approved for use in cattle cannot be used in other species without the oversight of a licensed veterinarian knowledgeable about the herd and with whom the livestock owner has a business relationship. Many vaccinations have a meat and/or milk withholding period, too.
Those taking animals to fairs, shows, breeding appointments, etc. introduce added risk to their farm. Any animal taken to another premises should be quarantined from one to three months when taken home. They are at risk of contracting diseases from other animals and surfaces at the exhibition and bringing these diseases back to the home herd.
How Does Bovipast Rsp Work
- Bovipast® RSP is efficacious in the presence of maternally derived antibodies.
- Bovipast® RSP contains IRP technology .
- When bacterial pneumonia agents like Mannheimia haemolytica reach the lungs of an animal it needs iron to multiply and grow.
- IRPs on the surface of bacteria allow absorption of iron.
- Animals vaccinated with Bovilis Bovipast® RSP produce antibodies that bind to the IRPs and reduce the bacterias ability to absorb iron.
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Signs Of Pneumonia In Calves To Look Out For
Pneumonia is a respiratory disease that causes inflammation of the lungs. An infection in pre-weaned calves can reduce milk production later in life by 10-15% depending on the severity.
But if you catch it early in the first two-to-three days calves are much more likely to recover fully.
Therefore, knowing the symptoms is key. There are six main signs calves with pneumonia will exhibit. If a calf has three of these you should treat it immediately.
Below, Dr Scott Abbott froofm Dairy Vet Management and director of technical services at breeding company World Wide Sires, talks through the main signs to look out for.
Take the rectal temperature. Higher than 39.5C indicates the calf may be sick.
What To Look For
It is critical to know how the lungs sound to decide which treatment route to go. If the lungs sound raspy and rough, then natural treatment can be very effective. If you hear wet abscess sounds, the animal needs antibiotics. And if you hear consolidated lungs, its too late for anything. Consolidated lungs are lungs with permanently damaged areas that are compacted and can no longer inflate. Usually the worst animal is the first to catch the farmers attention.
Oftentimes the sickest calf in the group will already have serious lung damage . A consolidated lung means that air entering the lungs through the windpipe never gets effectively absorbed because the areas of diseased lung tissue are no longer functional. By listening with the stethoscope, a vet can alert the farmer as to how much permanently damaged tissue there is. These calves, if they survive, usually show respiratory problems in a couple of years when heavy in calf in the hot summer days. Aggressive antibiotic and anti-inflammatory therapy is their only hopebut the permanently damaged tissue will still be useless later on. Animals simply dont function well with less than 100 percent lung capacity .
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Vet Advice With Dr Ron Clarke
Atypical Interstitial Pneumonia continues to plague the beef industry in unpredictable ways. Also known as acute bovine pulmonary emphysema and edema, AIP is a common cause of sudden respiratory distress in cattle, particularly adult beef cattle grazing lush pastures through late summer and fall and in feedlot cattle through the finishing period. Sudden onset of clinical signs with minimal coughing and severe difficulty breathing characterize AIP. Affected animals often die despite supportive treatment. Those that do survive can improve dramatically over the course of several days.
Cases of AIP have been reported in west central Alberta and Saskatchewan during the summer of 2016. Rain and lush regrowth of fall grazing pasture and cropland will likely increase the risk of AIP.
Although AIP has been described in veterinary literature since the 1960s, many questions about inciting causes and the predictability of onset still exist.
Summer Pneumonia In Calves A Concern
- Summer pneumonia can affect calves as early as 3 to 4 weeks old to 3 to 5 months of age.
Dead or sick calves are a scenario that is reported every year in a number of beef herds in the northern Plains.
A list of all possible causes for this case can be very confusing to producers, says Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist. However, depressed, feverish calves with an increased respiratory rate most likely will fit the diagnosis of summer pneumonia.
The common question generated by this diagnosis is: Why would nursing beef calves in the pasture with little stress in their lives come down with respiratory disease or pneumonia?
What is Summer Pneumonia?
Summer pneumonia is respiratory disease/pneumonia that occurs in beef calves nursing their dams. The age range of calves affected can be as early as 3 to 4 weeks and from 3 to 5 months of age.
Calves are born with little to no immunity and are dependent on receiving a passive transfer of immunity from their dam through colostrum. This passively acquired immunity declines through time, and unless the calf develops active immunity through vaccination or exposure to infectious agents, they eventually will become susceptible to pathogens that can cause respiratory disease.
This is why some calves are susceptible at a very young age and other calves become susceptible later, Stokka says.
Conditions Leading to Summer Pneumonia
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Infectious Agents Viruses Bacteria And Parasites
Direct damage can be caused by certain infectious organisms such as BRSV, Mannheimia haemolytica, IBR virus, Pasteurella multocida and Histophilus somni. Parasites can also contribute to significant disease and can lead to secondary infections with bacteria etc.Other agents predispose to damage such as PI3 virus, BVD virus, Mycoplasma dispar, Mycoplasma bovis and other viruses.
Clinical Signs Of Pneumonia In Calves
There are 2 types of pneumonia that affect calves: acute pneumonia and chronic pneumonia.
Symptoms of acute pneumonia that farmers need to look out for include calves off their food, dull demeanour, heads down, nasal discharge, coughing and raised temperatures.
Chronic pneumonia is more gradual, with no distinct ill phase and the animal may appear to still eat well but may have a slight nasal discharge, sometimes with an increased respiratory rate and cough.
In order to minimise the risk of respiratory diseases, farmers should consider a vaccination programme. There is a range of vaccines available covering different infectious agents, with different administration methods and activation times.
Vets can advise on the best vaccination programme which should form part of an active animal health plan. Vaccination alone is not a silver bullet to healthier animals and should be complemented with good biosecurity and high standards of nutrition and management.
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Signs Relating To Respiratory Disease
Fever Depression, laboured breathing and increased respiratory rateLoss of appetite and coughReddening of the mucous membranesNasal discharge Initially watery and later may become purulentConjunctivitis runny eyes
Diagnostics in respiratory disease can be based on
preferably a combination of these different disciplines.
The clinical examination of diseased animals includes
· recording of respiratory rate and type
· rectal temperature
· observation for clinical signs
Clinical signs and gross pathology in respiratory disease rarely yield a specific diagnosis. Moreover, mixed infections are the rule rather than the exception. Laboratory testing is often required for a proper diagnosis.
Laboratory tests can be carried out on samples collected
- from live diseased animals
- during post-mortem examination
Most veterinary diagnostic laboratories offer methods for antibody testing for the common respiratory pathogens. Antibody testing for the different respiratory pathogens can be done by different methods like virus neutralization tests or antibody ELISA. The testing should be done on paired blood samples, because detection of antibodies in a single sample has little diagnostic value.
Samples may also be taken from diseased animals using the following specialist methods:
How Does Calf Pneumonia Affect Calves
A number of factors increase susceptibility to calf pneumonia. This include: stress resulting from management practices sub-optimal nutrition and in young calves, poor immunity as a result of inadequate colostrum intake.
Viruses are often the initial invader. They cause lung damage that soon allows secondary-bacterial infections to take hold.
- A temperature of greater that 39.5º Celcius
- Increased breathing rate and effort
- A nasal discharge which is initially clear and watery, but becomes thick and pus-like as the disease progresses.
During the early stages of infection, calf pneumonia can be difficult to detect. An elevated temperature is the first sign of disease and typically occurs 12-72 hours before detectable clinical signs appear3.
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Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus
Bovine viral diarrhea virus is an RNA virus classified as a Pestivirus in the family Flaviviridae . The role of BVDV in BRD as a primary pathogen has been controversial but appears to be that of a virus capable of inducing immunosuppression, which allows for development of secondary bacterial pneumonia. Seroconversion to BVDV after arriving in the feedlot has been reported to be the occurrence of respiratory disease in feedlot calves. Calves that arrive at the feedlot with high titers to BVDV have also been shown to be less likely to develop respiratory disease, and BVDV has been reported to be the virus most frequently associated with multiple viral infections of the respiratory tract of calves. Some studies have shown that the presence of a calf persistently infected with BVDV in a feedlot pen increases the risk of respiratory disease within that pen.
Summer Pneumonia In The Beef Herd
Professor, SDSU Extension Veterinarian, State Public Health Veterinarian
Respiratory disease in pre-weaned beef calves on pasture can be a concern for cow-calf producers. These outbreaks tend to be unpredictable, occurring in well-managed herds, as well as in less-intensively managed herds. As such, they are frustrating for cattle producers and veterinarians alike.
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Researchers Are Now Focusing On Inflammations Role In Pneumonia Cases In Cattle
University of Guelph research could lead to revolutionary new approaches to preventing pneumonia in beef cattle while reducing the use of antibiotics.
Dr. Jeff Caswell, a professor in the pathobiology department at the Ontario Veterinary College, says the traditional thinking has been that risk factors such as weaning, transportation, inclement weather, castration and viral infections lead to immunosuppression, which leads to pneumonia and other bovine respiratory diseases .
However, he and fellow researchers now believe that inflammation in the respiratory tract could be a big contributor and controlling that inflammation might significantly reduce cases of bacterial pneumonia.
In the experiment, a group of male auction calves considered to be at high risk for the disease were given an aerosol that contained killed bacteria to stimulate their immune response. A second control group was given a saline replacement. The researchers found that the calves treated with the killed bacteria developed more severe disease, instead of having more resilience as expected.
In fact, the first group lost 4.3 kilograms while the control group gained 4.3 kilograms, on average, in the first 28 days. Six of the 29 calves that received the killed bacteria died of mycoplasma bovis pneumonia while only one of the 29 control group calves died.
He says the latest research indicates some types of immune responses are suppressed by stress, but others are increased.
Pneumonia In Calves: What Are The Causes And How To Prevent It
Pneumonia in calves is the result of a complex interaction between viral and bacterial pathogens, environmental stress factors and the animals own resilience to disease.
Calf pneumonia causes inflammation and damage of the lung tissue and airways compromising lung function. In severe cases, the damage is irreversible and can result in death. However, even mild cases of pneumonia can significantly increase the cost of production.
Environmental factors include low environmental temperatures high humidity poor ventilation and also direct draughts onto calves themselves. The relationship between seasons and outbreaks may also be related to management practices including calving pattern and mixing of different ages of calves.
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Minimizing Exposure To Infection
Close contact with other animals allows respiratory pathogens to spread easily. Individual housing of dairy calves either indoors or outside is generally linked to improved calf health . There is long-term recognition of the benefit to dairy calf health of outdoor housing in hutches especially for the prevention of diarrhea and respiratory disease .Similarly, keeping age groups separate and group sizes small has been shown to reduce respiratory disease .
Introduction of animals from other herds carries a risk of disease transfer, even in virtually closed herds, where only occasional replacement animals are brought in. Keeping recent purchases separate from the herd for 2-3 weeks to ensure that they are not incubating a respiratory disease is an adequate control measure.
Treating Calf Pneumonia
In the face of an outbreak of enzootic pneumonia in a closed herd or when a chronic problem is recognized, it is important to attempt to identify the causative agents and management and environmental factors in order to target preventive measures in the future. There are a number of investigative techniques that can be used in the face of a pneumonia outbreak. These include:
In all cases antimicrobial treatment should be under veterinary guidance and should be outlined in the farms herd health plan.
Calf Pneumonia and Welfare
Single suckled calves reared in outdoor systems are at lowest risk of pneumonia
Good Practice Based on Current Knowledge