2021/04/22 - Products

A new breath for the treatment of respiratory diseases in livestock

Vignette-site-corpo-SV.jpgRespiratory diseases are one of the most common pathologies affecting cattle and swine: all over the world, they are responsible for a high mortality rate in herds and significant economic losses. At Virbac, we support a reasonable use of antibiotics by using new technologies to help veterinarians and farmers make the right treatment decision at the right time and improve dosage and traceability.

Bovine Respiratory Diseases (BRD) and Swine Respiratory Disease (SRD) result from adverse interactions between the animal's immune status, microorganisms (viruses, bacteria) and various environmental stressors. Usually, they start with a viral infection of the respiratory tract, causing immunosuppression allowing bacterial agents to grow. They cause inflammation of the airways which can lead to acute pneumonia and progress to chronic pneumonia with irreversible damage.

MR-texte-bovin.jpgBRD is the leading pathology in young and adult animals and affects 20-25% of calves each year, resulting in growth retardation for 10% of them and a mortality rate of up to 6%1. The prevalence rate of SRD in pigs can also be around 20%, with a risk of sequelae of up to 40% of affected animals and a mortality rate of up to 20%2. Beyond the consequences on animal health, BRD and SRD have a considerable economic impact for the farmer, due to the decrease in animal growth, diagnosis and treatment costs, mortality and costs associated with extra work. 

Reasonable use of antibiotics: as little as possible, as much as necessary

MR-texte-cochons.jpgPrevention of BRD and SRD is essential. It relies primarily on improved husbandry and animal vaccination. However, even with excellent biosecurity and animal health management, if a bacterial infection occurs, antibiotic treatment of the sick animal is essential. When it becomes clear that the disease is affecting a critical proportion of the herd, the veterinarian may also need to treat the entire group without waiting for all animals to show symptoms. This strategy (metaphylaxis) is also applied in humans, for example, in the case of a meningitis epidemic. It is particularly regulated in European farms and will be even more so from January 2022, with the entry into force of Regulation (EU) 2019/61, which will strengthen the rational use of antimicrobial drugs in animal husbandry.

While antibiotics are necessary to treat diseases and preserve the well-being of animals, at Virbac, we support a reasoned approach by helping veterinarians and farmers to limit their use to what is strictly necessary to avoid the development of bacterial resistance. We offer them an injectable solution with dosages adapted to the different weights of cattle and pigs, based on a molecule recognized for decades as a reference in the treatment of respiratory diseases. But we go further: to help them limit the quantity of antibiotics used, we offer them innovative tools to reason out the prescription, better control the administration and improve the traceability of treatments.

Innovating and informing to build tomorrow's world together

To cure disease and prevent animal suffering while limiting the amount of antibiotics dispensed, the veterinarian must take into account a set of clinical and zootechnical parameters to determine the best treatment options. Before deciding to implement a metaphylactic strategy, the veterinarian must also confirm the presence of the disease in the group. To help him in his diagnosis in cattle farms, our teams have developed a mobile application that cross-references a set of relevant parameters to determine, in a rational way, the opportunity and the time of its implementation. Another innovation, particularly adapted to pig farms, is a connected syringe to facilitate injections while improving compliance and traceability of treatments. We are also conducting information campaigns for veterinary practitioners in cattle and pigs. In March and April 2021, we organized two webinars to help European veterinarians anticipate the changes that will occur in 2022. 

By 2050, the Earth will be home to nearly 10 billion people. Allowing a growing world population to have access to quality food while preserving animal health and welfare is the challenge for the various livestock sectors in the years to come. The equation implies a necessary adaptation of breeding techniques and veterinary practices, to focus on prevention, while continuing to treat sick animals. At Virbac, we support the necessary changes to reduce unnecessary treatments with a positive impact on animal and human health.


1- (Irsik et al., 2006) Irsik, M., Langemeier, M., Schroeder, T., & Deen Roder, J. (2006). Estimating the Effects of Animal Health on the Performance of Feedlot Cattle. The Bovine Practitioner, 65–74.

2 - Ticó G, et al. 2013