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Randomised positive control trial of NSAID and antimicrobial treatment for calf fever caused by pneumonia

Mahendran, S A; Booth, R E; Burge, M; Bell, N J


S A Mahendran

R E Booth

M Burge

N J Bell


One hundred and fifty-four preweaning calves were followed between May and October 2015. Calves were fitted with continuous monitoring temperature probes (TempVerified FeverTag), programmed so a flashing light emitting diode (LED) light was triggered following six hours of a sustained ear canal temperature of ≥39.7°C. A total of 83 calves (61.9 per cent) developed undifferentiated fever, with a presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia through exclusion of other calf diseases. Once fever was detected, calves were randomly allocated to treatment groups. Calves in group 1 (NSAID) received 2 mg/kg flunixin meglumine (Allevinix, Merial) for three consecutive days and group 2 (antimicrobial) received 6 mg/kg gamithromycin (Zactran, Merial). If fever persisted for 72 hours after the initial treatment, calves were given further treatment (group 1 received antimicrobial and group 2 received NSAID). Calves in group 1 (NSAID) were five times more likely (P=0.002) to require a second treatment (the antimicrobial) after 72 hours to resolve the fever compared with the need to give group 2 (antimicrobial) calves a second treatment (NSAID). This demonstrates the importance of ongoing monitoring and follow-up of calves with respiratory disease. However, of calves with fever in group 1 (NSAID), 25.7 per cent showed resolution following NSAID-only treatment with no detrimental effect on the development of repeated fever or daily live weight gain. This suggests that NSAID alone may be a useful first-line treatment, provided adequate attention is given to ongoing monitoring to identify those cases that require additional antimicrobial treatment.


Mahendran, S. A., Booth, R. E., Burge, M., & Bell, N. J. (2017). Randomised positive control trial of NSAID and antimicrobial treatment for calf fever caused by pneumonia. Veterinary Record, 181(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 16, 2017
Publication Date Apr 21, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 27, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2017
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 181
Issue 2
Public URL


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