A new vaccine for Mycoplasma Bovis (M.Bovis) is currently on trial in the UK.
Developed in the United States, Myco-B has been granted a temporary import license, via Kernfarm, for use in the United Kingdom under veterinary prescription.
Graeme Fowlie, director of Meadows Vets in Aberdeenshire, has set up the first on-farm trials in the UK to ascertain the effectiveness of Myco-B.
Given the plethora of other symptoms, much like BVD, including mastitis, arthritis, immunosuppression and otitis associated with M. Bovis, Mr Fowlie explained that the disease lead to increased antibiotic use as well as hampering herd performance.
He said: “I am delighted to be working with Kernfarm to introduce what might be the missing link to pneumonia prevention.
“Control is difficult and involves individual or group treatments, and isolation of clinical cases.
“As a vet it is frustrating not being able to prevent the most common cause of pneumonia, despite utilising extensive vaccines for other farms.
“I am also keen to promote best practice in trying to reduce antibiotic dependence. Farmers should not be living with BVD on their farm and it is the same with M. Bovis – it needs to be the next target for eradication.”
The trial is taking place on four dairy farms, varying from 170 to 400 cows, which have tested positive for M. Bovis.
Cows and in-calf heifers are being vaccinated at drying off or at least four weeks pre-calving.
Calves born into the trial will receive a booster at 60 days old in line with the standard vaccine licence.
Calf performance will be recorded before and after the use of Myco-B to assess vaccine efficacy, with assessments made on changes in liveweight gain, mortality, antibiotic usage and farmer opinions.
Mr Fowlie continued: “My belief is that M. Bovis is too complicated a disease for a young calf’s immune system to control by vaccinating at seven to 10 days old.
“Some calves are also born with the disease, which is why I am looking at vaccinating the cows so they can pass on the immunity through their colostrum.
“I expect to see an impact from weaning onwards, when calves are most susceptible to the disease.”
Mr Fowlie explained that vets must apply for a ‘Special Treatment Certificate’ before ordering Myco-B and can prescribe it under the Cascade system.