Pneumonia Drugs and Vaccines – A Review
Pneumonia season has been hitting us hard this fall, with damp weather and fluctuating temperatures. Calves and cows have been struggling alike, and so an overview of the available drugs and vaccines seems prudent. I’ve provided a handy chart to hang in the calf barn or milk house for quick reference and to aid in treatment decisions.
A note about treating pneumonia. Typically pneumonia is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria - most commonly the virus hits first and suppresses the immune system which makes the cow more susceptible to secondary bacterial infection that invades the lungs and respiratory system. Usually these acute viral infections manifest as very high fevers in cows or calves, most often with visible puffing or respiratory effort. So an important part of treatment involves an anti-inflammatory to bring down fever and reduce the pain associated with pneumonia. Adding a drug like Banamine/ Flunazine, Metacam or Anafen to your antibiotic treatment will greatly help animals recover from pneumonia. Luckily, many combination drugs are available on the market now that include both an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory. These are all unfortunately for non-lactating cattle – so when treating a milking cow you will need to use two drugs.
Although we have been involved with several outbreaks of pneumonia this fall, it is also important to consider vaccinating to prevent the problem in the first place. Pneumonia drugs can be expensive, especially if many animals are being treated (which is usually the case in an outbreak), and so prevention is the best way to go – both for your animals and your bottom line.