The objective of this randomized clinical study was to compare the effect of 2 antimicrobial interventions, tildipirosin or florfenicol + flunixin meglumine, used for treatment of pneumonia and extralabel treatment for otitis on health parameters and upper respiratory tract (URT) microbiota of preweaned Holstein calves. Housed preweaned Holstein heifers diagnosed with either otitis or pneumonia were assigned into 1 of 2 treatment groups, receiving a single subcutaneous injection of either 4 mg/kg of tildipirosin (TLD; n = 444) or 40 mg/kg of florfenicol combined with 2.2 mg/kg of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, flunixin meglumine (FLF; n = 442). Calves were enrolled and treated on the day of diagnosis of the first case of pneumonia or otitis. If a calf had a recurrent case, the opposite drug was administered, respecting an interval of 5 d between drug injections. Blood samples for leukocyte counts were collected at 0, 2, 4, and 6 d after treatment, and rectal temperature was measured daily during the 5 d after treatment. Ear scores were observed from calves with otitis. Additionally, swabs of the URT were collected from a subset of 20 calves in each treatment group at d 0, 3, 6, 9, and 11 following enrollment for analysis of URT microbiota through next-generation sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and quantitative PCR. Swabs were also collected from a comparative group of 20 healthy calves that did not receive any drug. No differences were observed between groups for recurrence risk of either pneumonia (TLD = 32.4%; FLF = 29.7%) or otitis (TLD = 72.7%; FLF = 73.6%). Similarly, no differences were observed for the total number of treatments for pneumonia (TLD = 1.45; FLF = 1.42) or otitis (TLD = 2.96; FLF = 3.07). On the other hand, both drugs reduced rectal temperature, ear scores, and leukocyte counts, with FLF calves having a greater reduction in rectal temperature within 4 d after treatment. Both TLD and FLF reduced the total bacterial load when compared with healthy untreated calves, but no differences were observed between treatment groups. Furthermore, compared with the untreated group, treated calves had lower mean relative abundances (MRA) of the genera Mannheimia, Moraxella, and Pasteurella within 11, 9, and 3 d after treatment, respectively; however, no significant differences were observed between TLD and FLF. On the other hand, MRA of Mycoplasma was not decreased by both treatments compared to untreated animals, and a higher MRA was observed in the TLD group during 11 d after treatment in comparison to FLF and untreated calves. Based on this data, we concluded that both drugs used in the study were effective in reducing rectal temperature, ear scores, leukocyte counts, and MRA of the genera Mannheimia, Pasteurella, and Moraxella in the URT, and calves treated with FLF had a greater reduction in rectal temperature.
J Dairy Sci (Journal of dairy science)
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