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Question for armchair vets

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kph

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I am having a problem with my calves this spring that I can't figure out and my vet doesn't seen to have much of an answer for. First of all they seem to be born with it. Weaker than normal at birth, seem to get stronger for a couple days, then get weaker again.
Usually 104-106 temp and slimy drool. Lay out flat, labored breathing but not respiratory. Mycotil sometimes cuts the temp but not always.Still get up and suck when they need to. Have got the fifth calf now with it.
Been treating it as white muscle but seems to be little or no response to Bo-Se and Vit E. One that died was sent in and was negative for white muscle, but may have been a different problem with that one.3 (that Ive seen) have had breif siezures with eyes and limbs twitching, get up and walk in circles or stumble into walls. One died shortly after, the others it passed and no more sign of it. Joints get sore and swollen. Two have been dealing with it for 4-6 weeks now.
They get along, dont have the decency to die so I can do autopsys.
Cows have been on as good a mineral program the past year as I've ever done, good shape, cleaning well, rest of the calves doing fine.
Any guesses??
 

Faster horses

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I am a bit skeptical of Cattlemaster. We were advised not to use it
a long time ago, but perhaps it is different now. Is the BVD part of
it killed or modified live?

I wondered about Vit.A deficiency,but I don't think calves run a
fever with that.

Polio? How is their drinking water?

I hope you are able to find out what is wrong and correct the
problem. Good luck!!
 

WyomingRancher

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Yikes, so sorry to hear you're going through this. Like others, BVD, Mycoplasma come to mind. If all else fails, I'd contact Pfizer for help, they're a very proactive company when it comes to figuring out problems, and will stand behind their products... speaking from experience :wink: .

Hopefully Hillsdown will offer her opinion.
 

cowman52

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Bred cows in red bluff ne for 5 yrs, they had the same thing?? started vac on new borns with titanium, calves were ill for a day or so but mortality went down quick. They used it on the cows between calving and 30 days before a I started and it got better quick. They had cows overstocked and that had some to do with it.
 

hillsdown

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I am stumped as well, " the 3 (that Ive seen) have had brief seizures with eyes and limbs twitching, get up and walk in circles or stumble into walls" sound indicative of lead poisoning but that is very young for them to suffer from it unless it was somehow transferred in utero or the milk.

Was thinking IBR ,BVD ,mycoplasma as well as Lepto ??? Wish they would have done a necropsy and all blood work on the calf that was tested for selenium deficiency .

I would be very proactive right now with all calves as soon as they are born ,hit them with a brood spectrum antibiotic right away (like nuflor) and also give them B12 ,selenium and A&D as well as oral calf guard . Also if the joints are swelling hit them with a steroidal anti inflam like predef too . Hope your vet can come up with an attack plan for you all .

I have asked a vet on another board if they might have some suggestions so hopefully we will hear back. Wish I had seen this earlier as I was just speaking with our LA vet this morning and he has seen and heard pretty much everything.

Good luck .
 

kph

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The vet tested for BVD. Never heard back so I assume it was negative but I can check for sure. I've seen plenty of that though and doubt that's it. Thought of Mycoplsma too, but the vet didnt think that was it. From what I've read it's usually associated with pneumonia and none of these calves have shown lung problems. Some were treated with Draxxin and seemed ineffectual.
Cowman, do you mean Titanium BVD vacc.? Was that problem linked to BVD?
 

kph

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hillsdown said:
I am stumped as well, " the 3 (that Ive seen) have had brief seizures with eyes and limbs twitching, get up and walk in circles or stumble into walls" sound indicative of lead poisoning but that is very young for them to suffer from it unless it was somehow transferred in utero or the milk.

Was thinking IBR ,BVD ,mycoplasma as well as Lepto ???
Wish they would have done a necropsy and all blood work on the calf that was tested for selenium deficiency .
I would be very proactive right now with all calves as soon as they are born ,hit them with a brood spectrum antibiotic right away (like nuflor) and also give them B12 ,selenium and A&D as well as oral calf guard . Also if the joints are swelling hit them with a steroidal anti inflam like predef too . Hope your vet can come up with an attack plan for you all .

I have asked a vet on another board if they might have some suggestions so hopefully we will hear back. Wish I had seen this earlier as I was just speaking with our LA vet this morning and he has seen and heard pretty much everything.

Good luck .


He sent in a variety of tissue samples and it came back as a massive infection. They werent able to isolate it but suggested Salmonella. The vet was surprised because all tissue and organs looked healthy. I have my doubts that calf had the same thing as these others, though so I dont put too much weight on that analysis.
 

kph

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No, these sick calves havent had scour trouble. I have had some in the other calves, but not severe. This is affecting 4 or 5 out of 80 calves.
 

hillsdown

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This is a really good article regarding mycoplasma, it is related to dairy calves but it does sound familiar to what your few calves are symptomatic of.

http://www.progressivedairy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=202:0806-pd-mycoplasma-in-young-dairy-calves&catid=99:past-articles

Diseases caused by mycoplasma continue to emerge and remain frustrating to all segments of the dairy industry. In cows, several species of mycoplasma can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis, abortion, and other disease syndromes. Mycoplasma bovis is the most common cause of mycoplasma mastitis and is one of the leading causes of contagious mastitis. In young stock, mycoplasma may cause a variety of disease syndromes as early as two to three weeks after birth.

Mycoplasmas are the smallest, free-living organisms known to cause disease in animals. They are found as part of the normal flora of the upper respiratory tract of healthy cattle. They are unique “bacteria.” They have a very small genome, lack a cell wall and have an exposed plasma membrane on their surface. The lack of a cell wall makes mycoplasmas resistant to certain classes of antibiotics, such as penicillins and cephalosporins, which have activity on the cell wall.

Although Mycoplasma dispar, M. californicum and other mycoplasma species can cause disease in young calves, Mycoplasma bovis is the most common mycoplasma pathogen in young stock. In young dairy calves, mycoplasma can cause pneumonia, conjunctivitis, ear infections, abscesses and arthritis. Mycoplasma is commonly associated with pneumonia as a secondary infection to other viruses or bacteria, but in some cases it may be a primary cause of pneumonia.

Calves may be infected by direct contact with the dam at birth, by ingestion of contaminated milk, through nose-to-nose contact with other calves, by ingestion of the organism from contaminated nipples and buckets and through the environment. Following infection, the organism attaches to epithelial cells lining the mucosal surface, invades the mucosa- utilizing proteins on the surface of the organism and enters the bloodstream.

The organism is spread to various tissues in the body where it may cause disease. Conjunctivitis, head tilts and droopy ears (middle ear infections) are commonly the first signs of a mycoplasma infection in young calves. Often times these are seen in conjunction with, or just prior to, a pneumonia outbreak. In severe cases, the organism may be spread through blood to the joints and result in polyarthritis. In heifers, the organism can spread to the udder, and they may freshen with mycoplasma mastitis.

Treatment of mycoplasma infections in young calves can be frustrating. Treatment should be started early, at the first signs of disease. If treatment is delayed and severe pneumonia, polyarthritis or mastitis results, recovery is difficult and animals may become chronically infected. Due to the nature of the organism, many antibiotics are ineffective at treating mycoplasma. Tetracyclines, tylosin, tilmicosin, florfenicol or spectinomycin may be beneficial. A complete laboratory workup, including isolation of the organism and antibiotic susceptibility testing, can be useful in selecting an antibiotic.

Operations with calves from multiple sources may have several mycoplasma organisms causing disease, and antibiotic susceptibility may vary between organisms. Depending on the antibiotic utilized, treatment should be administered by injectable or oral route to provide antibiotic coverage for a period of 10 days.

Management and biosecurity are keys to the prevention and control of mycoplasma infections in young calves. Tips for preventing mycoplasma include:

1. At birth, feed high-quality colostrum to provide immunity against respiratory diseases and scours. Prevention of these diseases may decrease secondary mycoplasma infections.
2. Do not feed calves milk from known mycoplasma cows.
3. Pasteurize discarded waste milk before feeding to calves.
4. Following birth, minimize contact between cow and calf.
5. Improve ventilation in calf barns.
6. Manage calf housing to provide all-in, all-out.
7. Clean and disinfect hutches or barns between calves or groups of calves.
8. Minimize calf-to-calf contact.
9. Provide a dry environment for calves.
10. Prevent contact between young calves and sick animals. If possible, isolate sick animals.
11. Clean and disinfect pails, nipples, etc.
12. Treat infected calves promptly.
13. Vaccinate against respiratory disease due to other viruses and bacteria. PD

Here is another link but says pretty much the same thing .http://www.sites.ext.vt.edu/newsletter-archive/dairy/2006-02/mycoplasma.html

Also if it is mycoplasma ,Micotil will have no effect on it . You will need to use Nuflor or Draxxin.

Good luck ,even though it is just five calves I know it must be very frusterating not to know what you are up against. Hope it all works out and keep us updated if you find out anything more .
 

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I too, received some information on mycoplasma that I'll share here
FWIW.

I'm posting the last part of the article first since it talks about treatment:

Treatment

Mycoplasma is very difficult to treat because many commonly used antibiotics do not work well. Penicillin, Polyflex®, Naxcel®, Excenel®, and Excede® kill bacteria by destroying the cell wall. Since Mycolplasma does not have a normal cell wall, these antibiotics are ineffective in treating it. Micotil® shows little or no activity against Mycoplasma as well.

Oxytetracycline (the active ingredient in LA-200®, Biomycin 200®, Tetradure 200®, and other generics) has produced mixed results in treating Mycoplasma. In one study 50 percent of M. bovis isolates were resistant to oxytetracycline. Tulathromycin (Draxxin®) is the only drug approved for Mycoplasma, and in one study, was the drug most likely to be effective (Godinho, et al., 2005). Draxxin® provides the most convenient treatment of Mycoplasmosis because one dose provides seven to 14 days of therapeutic blood concentrations against Mycoplasma and Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasturella multocida, and Histophilus somni, all causes of BRDC. Other drugs that show good results are Nuflor® and Adspec®. Baytril® and A180® can also be effective in treating Mycoplasma when there is a mixed infection with M. haemolytica and Mycoplasma.

The two most important factors in the treatment of Mycoplasma are early recognition and prolonged treatment. Calves treated early in the course of the disease respond fairly well. The need for longer treatment than usual for BRDC is underscored by the fact that without extended therapy, 30 percent to 70 percentof the calves can relapse and require treatment again. Each time a calf relapses it will have more lung damage and be less likely to recover. Current recommendations are to provide continuous therapeutic levels of antibiotics to calves with Mycoplasma pneumonia for 10 to 14 days.

Chlortetracycline at a rate of 0.25 to 1.0 grams per 100 pounds of body weight per day can be added to the feed to extend the therapy protocol to the recommended 10 to 14 days. If a Mycoplasma infection is suspected, a veterinarian should be consulted in developing a treatment protocol that will fit these guidelines and best meet the needs of the operation. Using antibiotics to treat swollen joints is usually unrewarding once the pneumonia has been controlled. The most effective treatment for arthritic calves is to provide easy access to feed and water to prevent starvation and dehydration. It may also be necessary to run these animals to feed and water several times daily until they have begun to recover. The most fortunate aspect of this disease is that it appears, given enough time, a large number of calves will recover. It can take weeks to months for the joints to fully recover and the cattle to start gaining weight.

Prevention

Because a large percentage of normal cattle have M. bovis in their upper respiratory tract, it is next to impossible for stocker operations, which obtain all their cattle from outside sources, to implement biosecurity measures to prevent Mycoplasma from entering their farms. However, cow-calf producers should observe a strict biosecurity protocol when bringing in new additions to the herd.

Since Mycoplasmosis often occurs after BRDC, the most important aspect of prevention of Mycoplasma pneumonia is to reduce the stressors to which cattle are exposed. The same practices that lower the risk of BRDC work best to decrease the risk of Mycoplasmosis. Good vaccination, nutrition, and mineral programs strengthen the immune system of calves making them less likely to develop BRDC and Mycoplasmosis. The number of cattle purchased at any one time should not exceed the capacity of the facilities. Poor-quality or high-risk calves should not be acquired unless they can be watched closely and easily handled for treatment. Also, drenching and balling guns should be disinfected between each use when dosing several calves in a row. Recognizing and treating sick animals early not only decreases the number of “chronics” and calf deaths, but also decreases the spread among populations of cattle.

The vaccines currently available against M. bovis have not been shown to be effective in beef cattle.

Summary

Mycoplasma is a major cause of pneumonia and associated lameness in beef cattle. The frequency and severity of disease has been growing rapidly over the last decade. Early recognition and treatment of sick animals, as well as good overall management programs will decrease the incidence and severity of disease. If a Mycoplasma problem is suspected, work closely with your veterinarian. This is a disease that can have disastrous economic and management effects on a farm if not addressed quickly and aggressively.

Diagnosis

A definitive diagnosis of Mycoplasma pneumonia is difficult because M. bovis can be cultured from the nasal secretions and upper airways of normal calves. In order to be sure that M. bovis is contributing to the pneumonia, it needs to be recovered from the lungs of calves. As mentioned before, this requires a special culture medium. M. bovis should be suspected when joint swelling or single drooped ears are noted in a group of calves that have had pneumonia, or when the pneumonia is unresponsive to treatment. It is important to remember that some strains of M. bovis may not cause lameness or drooped ears, so it is very possible to have Mycoplasmosis without these additional signs. In the U.S., M. bovis has become the most common respiratory pathogen of cattle that do not respond well to treatment.

The joint swelling primarily comes from inflammation of the joint capsule and the tissues surrounding the joint. The cartilage-covered bone surfaces in the joint, which heal poorly, are minimally affected. This is very important for the prognosis of affected calves, as even joints that are severely affected often recover.

Other Clinical Signs

A small percentage of beef cattle that have Mycoplasma pneumonia will develop ear infections, or otitis. Affected calves will have drooped ear(s) with yellow pus draining from one or both ears. In rare cases, Mycoplasma invades into the inner ear causing a head tilt, circling or falling to one side, or the inability to rise with the affected side toward the ground (Smith, 2002, p 951).



Arthritis

Some calves with pneumonia due to M. bovis will develop a severe arthritis two to four weeks later. Different strains of M. bovis have different likelihoods of causing joint problems so some outbreaks have many lame calves while others have none. Affected calves will have swollen joints that are so painful that they will be reluctant to walk to the feed and water bunks. By the time the infection reaches the calf’s joints, severe lung damage has probably occurred. In rare cases, calves can have joint involvement without any signs of pneumonia.

The carpus (knee) and stifle are the most commonly affected joints, but any joint can be involved. Calves can be lame in one or more joints.

Mycoplasma weakens the cattle’s immune system, and inhibits the respiratory tract’s own defenses against disease (Smith, 2002, p 559). Common clinical signs are a harsh hacking cough, a low-grade fever, mildly increased respiratory rate, mild depression, and runny eyes. Because Mycoplasma does not produce toxins like Mannheimia haemolytica, these calves initially do not look as sick as other calves with pneumonia. They are alert and have a fair appetite. However, if they are not treated early their condition will worsen dramatically and be much harder to treat. It may take seven to 14 days after the respiratory tract is infected before calves show dramatic clinical signs, and by this stage significant and often permanent damage has been done to the lungs. This scenario results in higher calf deaths and more “chronics.” Necropsy findings associated with Mycoplasma include small abscesses throughout the lung that have the appearance of scattered rice. Calves with pneumonia due to Mycoplasma do not respond as well to standard treatments for BRDC, and often relapse up to one month after initial treatment.

----------------
Our lessee had a calf that acted like he had mycoplasma last summer, but
it turned out to be tetanus from banding late. He gave them all a shot
for tetanus too, but it's easy to miss one.
----------------------------------------------------------

Good luck and please let us know what you find out for sure.
 

kph

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Thanks for all the help. I do think I need to revisit the Mycoplasma theory. I have used Nuflor on them quite a bit with little or no effect, but I think I will give Draxxin more of a shot. Hate to hope for this, but if one does die I should be able to get some answers.
 

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North Ridge Ranching said:
You say the joints have swollen. I am no vet but, did these calves have any form of Navel Infection. I am sure your vet will have ruled this out already but you never know.

They can have swollen joints with mycoplasma too:

Affected calves will have swollen joints that are so painful that they will be reluctant to walk to the feed and water bunks. By the time the infection reaches the calf’s joints, severe lung damage has probably occurred. In rare cases, calves can have joint involvement without any signs of pneumonia.
 

kph

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No, there was no evidence of navel infection in any of the affected calves. The reason Im skeptical of Mycoplasma is that none of the calves have had pneumonia with it, the labored breathing seems to be from muscle weakness. Also they havent all been in the same lot and havent been crowded and seem to have the problem right from birth. I've never had experience with Mycoplasma but that doesnt seem to fit the "normal" description.
Is Draxxin the best treatment option for Mycoplasma?
 

WyomingRancher

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kph said:
No, there was no evidence of navel infection in any of the affected calves. The reason Im skeptical of Mycoplasma is that none of the calves have had pneumonia with it, the labored breathing seems to be from muscle weakness. Also they havent all been in the same lot and havent been crowded and seem to have the problem right from birth. I've never had experience with Mycoplasma but that doesnt seem to fit the "normal" description.
Is Draxxin the best treatment option for Mycoplasma?

Mycoplasma doesn't always present with pneumonia.
 

kph

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Well the BVD test on the one calf was negative. The vet was coming this am to look again and probably give more Draxxin.
The 2 younger calves (7-10 days) still have 104-105.3 temps, the oldest (7-8 weeks) had normal temp, still weak back legs but seems to be improving.
 

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