Look for broad-spectrum coverage when choosing scours vaccine

With fall in full swing, many cow/calf producers are preparing for preg-check and herd maintenance activities. Since preg-check is an opportune time to vaccinate cows against scours and other diseases, now is the time to discuss scours vaccine options with the herd veterinarian.

Doug Scholz, DVM, director of veterinary services for Novartis Animal Health recommends producers look for a broad-spectrum scours vaccine to ensure they get the most comprehensive protection.

"Multiple organisms can cause scours," says Scholz. "That's why producers should look for a scours vaccine that protects against as many of these pathogens as possible. The broader the spectrum of scours pathogens the vaccine covers, the fewer scours cases producers will see next spring."

Scholz explains there are four main scours pathogens: rotavirus, coronavirus, E. coli and Clostridium perfringens.

Rotavirus: One of the main viral pathogens involved in calf scours.

  • Symptoms: Causes scours in calves during their first day of life. Infected calves are severely depressed with excessive drooling and watery diarrhea. Fecal color varies from yellow to green.
  • Mortality Rate: May be as high as 50 percent, depending on the secondary bacteria present.

Coronavirus: Causes one of the most severe viral diarrheas of neonatal calves.

  • Symptoms: Occurs in calves over 5 days old. Calves are not as depressed as those with rotavirus and can initially have the same type of fecal matter. However, within several hours of scouring, feces may contain clear mucus.
  • Mortality Rate: Ranges from 1 to 25 percent.

E. coli: Although not all identified strains of E. coli cause scours, E. coli is always present in the intestinal tract and usually causes secondary infection.

  • Symptoms: The course varies from two to four days and the severity depends on the age of the calf when the scours starts and on the particular strain of E. coli. Clinical signs of E. coli include diarrhea and progressive dehydration.

Clostridium perfringens: Can be highly fatal to young calves. Of the six types of Clostridium perfringens, Type C poses the biggest threat.

  • Symptoms: Sudden onset. Calves become listless, display uneasiness and strain or kick at their abdomens. Calves may also have bloody diarrhea.

With so many scours-causing organisms poised to pounce on newborn calves, a comprehensive vaccine is an important part of a scours prevention program and offers the most protection for the cost, notes Scholz.

Dr. Tabb Spoonamore, DVM, in Clarksville, Tenn., recommends Scour BosĀ® to his clients because of its broad-spectrum coverage. "Although I see scours caused by multiple pathogens among my clients" herds, E. coli causes us the most problems by far," said Spoonamore. Containing four E. coli isolates in one dose more than any other scours vaccine on the market Scour Bos targets a key pathogen in Spoonamore's area.

"Scour Bos really covers scours across the board, protecting against not only E. coli, but also rotavirus and coronavirus," adds Spoonamore. That's why his clients ask for Scour Bos by name. "I know that every year when it's time to vaccinate, my producers request Scour Bos," he said.