Mycoplasma bovis, a Stealthy Invader

Tom Van Dyke, DVM, Manager of Veterinary Services, Merial

For both dairy and beef producers, the bottom line is dependent upon herd management – feeding, housing, transporting and marketing – and perhaps most importantly, overall health care. A big part of that health care is the control of bovine respiratory disease (BRD).

The disease is particularly troublesome for producers because even recovering dairy calves and heifers can continue to suffer from negative effects that impact their growth, fertility and milk production.1 BRD bacteria are in the upper respiratory tract of even healthy animals, then stress or viral infections allows bacteria to accumulate in the lungs. Following that, the bacteria colonize and multiply, leading to BRD.

Clinical signs of BRD producers should watch for include, but are not limited to:

  • quick or labored breathing
  • gaunt appearance
  • nasal discharge
  • rough hair coat
  • dry muzzle
  • and depression.2

“BRD is probably the biggest health risk producers face,” says Tom Van Dyke, DVM, veterinary technical services, Merial. “Finding ways to manage the disease is critical not just to health care, but also to developing and maintaining a profitable organization.”

It is estimated that BRD costs producers between $500 and $900 million annually.3-6

With those kinds of figures, Van Dyke recommends helping control the disease with a fast-acting antimicrobial like ZACTRAN® (gamithromycin), which has been proven to generate a 24-hour rapid response in treatment field trials in clinically ill cattle.3

Other benefits of ZACTRAN, as determined in BRD field trials, include:

  • In treatment trials, the majority of clinically ill cattle treated with ZACTRAN recovered and stayed healthy for the 10-day study.3
  • In control trials, the majority of lightweight, high-risk cattle treated with ZACTRAN stayed healthy for the 10-day study.4

“Margins are slim and producers need to have plans in place to control as many of the factors influencing those margins as possible,” adds Van Dyke. “Since other variables, like supply and demand, can’t be controlled by producers, they have to make every effort to influence the factors they can, because ultimately those will impact the bottom line.”

Todd Gordon, DVM and cattle producer, Brookfield, Mo., concurs with Van Dyke based on personal experience. “ZACTRAN is the economical metaphylaxis choice for our producers; since using it, we have decreased morbidity significantly. You are really getting more bang for your buck with ZACTRAN.”

With the product’s effectiveness over an extended period of time and proven results, Van Dyke recommends ZACTRAN for all operations. “Putting measures in place to control the things you can is key to a successful and profitable operation,” he says.

About Merial
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2012 sales were $2.8 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see

1 Van Der Fels-Klerx HJ, Martin SW, Nielen M, Huirne RBM. Effects on productivity and risk factors of bovine respiratory disease in dairy heifers; a review for the Netherlands. NJAS. 2002;50:27-45.

2 Bagley CV. Bovine Respiratory Disease, Utah State University Cooperative Extension, 1997;4:1-4.

3 Sifferman RL, Wolff WA, Holste JE, et al. Field efficacy evaluation of gamithromycin for treatment of bovine respiratory disease in cattle at feedlots. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. 2011;9(2):171-180.

4 Lechtenbery K, Daniles CS, Royer GC, et al. Field efficacy study of gamithromycin for the control of bovine respiratory disease in cattle at high risk of developing the disease. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. 2011;9(2):189-197.

5 Science Daily. Bovine Respiratory Disease: New Research to Tackle Major Concern for Cattle Industry. Accessed on site March 2010.

6 Schneider JM, Tait RG, Jr., Busby WD, Reecy JM. An evaluation of bovine respiratory disease complex in feedlot cattle: Impact on performance and carcass traits using treatment records and lung lesion scores. J Anim Sci. 2009;87:1821-1827.

Click here for full prescribing information.