Treatment of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) in cattle with a combination preparation of florfenicol and flunixin meglumine results in control of bacterial growth, reduction of fever and reduction of lung consolidation.

Treatment of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) in cattle with a combination preparation consisting of the anti-infective drug florfenicol and the anti-inflammatory drug flunixin meglumine (Resflor Solution for Injection), results in control of bacterial growth, reduction of fever and reduction of lung consolidation. This conclusion was drawn last month at a symposium supported by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health at the European Buiatrics Forum in Marseille (France).

If a high body temperature is routinely treated in human medicine as well as in companion animal medicine, why is that fever up to 41°C (106°F) in calves suffering from BRD is easily ignored? This question was posed by Allan Weingarten, director of pharmaceutical research for Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, while speaking at the Getting It Right the First Time: Best Practices in BRD Treatment symposium.

Dr Weingarten noted that BRD is universally treated with antibiotics, but it could be hours before treated animals show a lower temperature or other clinical signs of recovery. Besides raising animal welfare concerns, ignoring the febrile response is detrimental to good husbandry, he added.

ResflorBRD is often associated with recently weaned and transported cattle trying to cope with the stress of a new environment. The ability to cope is difficult at the best of times, but it is severely impeded by the debilitation caused by fever, Weingarten said, adding that co-administering non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) rapidly curtails the febrile response. It also buys time for the antibiotic to control the infection that started the fever in the first place.

Dr Weingarten then reviewed data showing the fever-reducing activity of flunixin and florfenicol, the two active ingredients found in Resflor. It is important to note that Resflor has dual pharmacology and that both ingredients contribute to the products antipyretic and anti-inflammatory efficacy, he said. Dr Weingarten also noted an increasingly more sophisticated consumer is interested not only in the cost efficiency of animal protein products, but [also] in how the animal is treated under our care. Ignoring the discomfort of a calf with a febrile response is being re-evaluated by the veterinary community.

Following Weingartens presentation, Edouard Timsit, a French bovine veterinarian, reported on work conducted with two colleagues at the Veterinary School of Nantes (France) Nathalie Bareille and Sébastien Assié that focused on detecting and treating respiratory disorders in young bulls at fattening units in western France. For this work the researchers used a bolus, measuring the intra-ruminal temperature. The results showed that the detection of BRD by farmers was usually late and incomplete. On average, farmers detected the disease more than 47 hours after the onset of hyperthermia, Timsit said. Moreover, they detected less than 31 per cent of unhealthy animals compared with the clinical examination by a veterinarian, accompanied by the measurement of serum inflammation marker haptoglobin.

He also noted that while metaphylactic treatment of all the animals could be indicated, it is important to further confirm the clinical and economic benefits of such approach, he said. Timsit reported that clinical development of BRD varied in untreated animals having contact with treated animals. In some groups, untreated animals became sick an event that probably could have been avoided with metaphylaxis. But in other groups, he added, the absence of new clinical cases raised questions about this preventive approach. It is important, therefore, to be able to first predict the number of secondary cases to be expected, Timsit said. As yet, there are no criteria allowing such a prediction to be made.

Despite the late detection and treatment of respiratory disease in many animals in the study, using Resflor yielded a therapeutic success of 91.9 per cent (four days post-treatment), Timsit reported. It also brought about a rapid decrease in body temperature (less than four hours) and serum haptoglobin levels (less than 0.25 g/l during the six days post-treatment) in the treated animals.

The full proceedings from the BRD symposium at the European Buiatrics Forum can be downloaded below.

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