Current methods of making a BRD diagnosis in cattle rely on subjective observations (BRD detection), followed by a rectal thermometer measurement (BRD confirmation). Given that these clinical signs are not specific to only BRD, this method isn’t reliable for diagnosing the disease. Consequently, many cattle with BRD are never identified, reducing performance and increasing mortality in herds. Likewise, many animals brought to the chute are misdiagnosed as having BRD and likely given antibiotics unnecessarily, increasing production and labor costs.
New technology for detection
A tool is now available that can change the way we look at BRD. The Whisper® Veterinary Stethoscope System from Merck Animal Health is a diagnostic tool that helps producers establish a score that reflects BRD severity in the lungs of individual animals. This information will help producers confirm a BRD diagnosis, select an appropriate treatment, and better care for their animals.
“This tool was designed for improving the accuracy of the BRD diagnosis once cattle are identified and brought to the chute,” says Jason Nickell, D.V.M., associate director of livestock technology and innovation, Merck Animal Health. “By confirming that cattle truly have BRD and providing a clearer picture of lung health and the severity of BRD, Whisper will help veterinarians and producers optimize antimicrobial costs and develop optimal treatment plans.”
To utilize Whisper, the user places the stethoscope on a specific region of the animal’s chest wall, and in eight seconds, the stethoscope will beep, indicating it is sending the sound file to the computer. The software assesses the recording and provides a score – ranging from one to five – that reflects a sliding scale of disease severity. The results of prior work has demonstrated that as the Whisper score increases, the risk of mortality – due to BRD – increases as well.
“This quick and accurate analysis provides a platform for effective, easy-to-analyze information for producers to use in confirming the BRD diagnosis while optimizing treatment protocols,” says Dr. Nickell.
Enhancing BRD management practices
The Whisper platform provides a management tool designed to enhance the efforts currently in place for confirming the BRD diagnosis. These detailed evaluations provide a digital record of individual animal lung health, decide which animals actually need treatment, and support judicious antibiotic use.
“Put simply, Whisper is a tool that provides producers and veterinarians with additional information to optimize BRD diagnostics at the feedyard, leading to improved treatment costs,” says Dr. Nickell. “The ultimate goal is to improve cattle health and well-being, as well as producers’ profitability.”
For more information on Whisper, please visit WhisperCattle.com.