Knowing When to Treat for BRD

One of the biggest threats to animal health at a feedyard is Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD). Often a result of shipping stress, BRD is common once cattle reach the feedyard. With the disease causing 75 percent of feedyard morbidity1, it can seem rational to treat animals for the disease as soon as any respiratory symptoms are noticed.

Common symptoms of BRD may include lack of appetite, shallow breathing or coughing. However, not all animals showing these symptoms will have BRD. Knowing when symptoms cross to a level that requires treatment can save producers time, money and stress on the animal. Merck Animal Health’s newly released Whisper Veterinary Stethoscope System helps producers confirm that diagnosis.

“Diagnosing BRD is a challenge, therefore the need for improving our diagnostic accuracy and improving the timing of finding those animals in the disease phase is important to try and make a dent in the negative economic impact of BRD,” says Dr. Jason Nickell, D.V.M., Merck Animal Health.

How Whisper Works
Whisper is a stethoscope that helps confirm the diagnosis of BRD. The tool works to detect lung health status by listening to the lungs and then assessing the recording. The stethoscope is placed on the animal’s chest, and in eight seconds a lung score is provided to users. The lung score – ranging from one to five – helps producers and veterinarians gauge the severity of BRD symptoms. A lung score of one indicates no signs of lung damage, while a lung score of five indicates permanent lung tissue damage.

The Whisper lung score data is stored in the program, where it can be reviewed with a veterinarian to determine severity and next steps. Whisper also can be used post-treatment to determine if lung condition is improving.

“By providing clarity on lung health and potential severity of disease, as well as which animals have BRD or are at the highest risk, Whisper will help veterinarians and producers optimize antimicrobial costs and develop optimal treatment plans,” adds Dr. Nickell.

Additionally, Studies have shown that Whisper reduced misdiagnosis and death loss. For more information about Whisper, visit WhisperCattle.com.
  1. Edwards, A.J. “Respiratory Diseases of Feedlot Cattle in the Central USA.” Bovine Practitioner 30(1996):5-7. Galyean, M.L.; L.J. Perino, and G.C. Duff. “Interaction of Cattle Health/Immunity and Nutrition.” Journal of Animal Science 77(1999):1120-1134.Loneragan, G.H.; D.A. Dargatz, P.S. Morley, and M.A. Smith. “Trends in Mortality Ratios Among Cattle in US Feedlots.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 219(2001):1122-1127.