Antibiotics for Treatment of Cattle Respiratory Disease

W. D. Whittier, DVM, MS
VA-MD Regional College of Vet. Med

Reprinted from VA Tech Livestock Update

A new antibiotic has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of cattle for respiratory disease. This brings to three the number of new antibiotic compounds approved for respiratory disease in recent years. The active ingredient of the new product is florfenicol and the new product will be marketed commercially as Nuflor®. It is a relative of the drug chloramphenical which was never approved for use in food animals in the US and which generated considerable concern and regulatory action when it was used illegally in cattle. The newly approved drug is reported to have a high activity against the bacteria that commonly infect the lungs of cattle affected with Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (commonly called shipping fever).

Nuflor® is an injectable product that is labeled for intramuscular administration. The treatment regime involves two injections given at a 48 hour interval.

Also approved since 1990 are products containing two other compounds not previously approved for cattle. These drugs are ceftiofur contained on Naxcel® and tilmicosin contained in Micotil®. These three drugs generally show a higher odds of treatment success probability in laboratory tests against the bacteria of cattle pneumonia than drugs which had been approved for respiratory disease treatment previously.

Each of these three newer medications have some characteristics that make them attractive on some situations. Advantages commonly mentioned include:

Naxcel®: No slaughter or milk discard time, little tissue irritation

Micotil®: Single injection recommended, subcutaneous injection gives less of a threat of muscle damage for future meat cuts

Nuflor®: Two injections provide 4 days of treatment.

The attached chart lists a number of antibiotics approved for the use of treating cattle. There are major differences in the cost, dosing times, volumes of treatment and slaughter withdrawal times. Producers are encouraged to consult with their veterinarian in determining which antibiotic may best suit their needs in the treatment of cattle with respiratory disease.

Table 1.

Animal Husbandry Newsletter November 1996
Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University
Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
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