Consider M. bovis in Cattle Pneumonia

UK - Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) is identified in about 25 per cent of cattle pneumonia diagnoses, yet remains significantly under-recognised by cattle vets and farmers alike, according to Pfizer Animal Health vet Carolyn Hogan.
calendar icon 8 February 2012
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Pfizer Animal Health

She advises that on-farm measures against M. bovis require the usual rules of good husbandry plus a little inside information.

“The basics must be covered first,” she says, “including clean and dry housing, sound nutrition starting at birth with enough good quality colostrum, vaccination when appropriate against pneumonia viruses, and not feeding infected milk to calves.

“However, in addition to respiratory conditions, it is important to recognise that M. bovis can be involved in others including arthritis, conjunctivitis and mastitis – hence the advice not to feed infected milk. Active observation for all likely signs plays a key part in detection, treatment and prevention.”

When it is a target for treatment, the M. bovis organism’s structure has an important implication for antibiotic choice, Ms Hogan explains. It has no cell wall, rendering a number of routinely used pneumonia treatments unsuitable because their modes of action involve disruption of bacterial cell walls. She recommends checking product data sheets of potential treatments for specific mention of Mycoplasma bovis before deciding on the appropriate one to administer.

“Despite M. bovis being present on UK farms a long time, it has only recently started to be taken seriously in pneumonia prevention and treatment. Even so, it still is too often an afterthought in the diagnostic process and really justifies a much higher profile.”

Ms Hogan invites vets who want more information about Mycoplasma bovis to get in touch with their usual Pfizer contact. And she suggests that farmers with cattle suffering recurrent or difficult-to-treat pneumonia should ask their vet, “what about Mycoplasma?”

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