Respiratory diseases, caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae for example, are always accompanied by coughing. Therefore, it is essential to pay close attention to coughs in barns: How many animals are coughing, how often are they coughing, and are there any other symptoms? The evaluation of the frequency of coughing is difficult, subjective, and depends on personal experience. For this reason Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica has developed a Cough Index App: By using the mobile phone it is possible to easily and objectively count and store the number of coughs in barns.
The self-explanatory Cough Index App allows users to easily count cough bouts over a standard time period. A cough bout is defined as a single cough or an episode of coughing (two or more cough attacks from one animal within 5 seconds). As a n output the user receives a cough index.
The usage of the app is simple:
Firstly the measured group, for example pen 5, section A, has to be inserted into the app (see picture above). The number of observed animals should at least be 20 per count. Before the first count, the user has to encourage the pigs to move for one minute. By clicking on “start” the app is started: For the next three minutes the user has to tap onto the screen for every single cough (see picture above).
For a reliable recording of the cough frequency at least one repetition is necessary, so two sets of counts are recorded. Afterwards, the cough index for the group appears below the button „calculate index”. If the number is in red, the cough index is above 2,5 (see picture below). If the number appears in green the index lies below 2,5. Previous studies documented that a cough index above 2,5 indicates respiratory problems/diseases (Nathues et al, 2012).
The Cough Index App is an objective way to measure the cough frequency and is therefore a convenient method to use to get a good overview of respiratory clinical signs in a population of pigs. This observation combined with a herd visit and laboratory diagnostics is a good base for developing together with your veterinarian a treatment plan or for reviewing the current vaccination program. You can download the BI Cough Index App free of charge from the Play Store (Android) and the App Store (Apple). Instructions on how to use the app are available in the document below.