Enterotoxemia in goats and sheep

Overeating or pulpy kidney disease, often known as enterotoxemia, is a disorder brought on by Clostridium perfringens type d. In healthy sheep and goats, these bacteria are often present in the soil and as a natural component of the intestinal microbiota. These bacteria can multiply quickly and create a huge amount of toxins in the colon of an animal when certain circumstances are met. The most important factor in causing the illness is the epsilon toxin produced by c. Perfringens type d. Young animals are most vulnerable. Lambs and young children sometimes experience sudden and high death rates. Even though adult animals may also suffer enterotoxemia, they become immune as a result of regular exposure to modest doses of these poisons.

Enterotoxemia outbreak-related factors:

When an animal’s natural immunity is weakened, as it is when they are sick, recuperating from an illness, or under stress, or when they are extensively parasitized by gastrointestinal parasites such nematodes, cestodes (tapeworms), and coccidia. Enterotoxemia caused by an overgrowth of clostridium perfringens type d in sheep and goat intestines is more likely to develop under the following circumstances:

Clinical signs :

Young animals are more often affected by the acute form. It is characterized by an unexpected death that happens around 12 hours after the disease’s first symptoms. Some young children or lambs may exhibit symptoms of CNS disorders, such as agitation or convulsions. The following are symptoms of enterotoxemia in sheep and goats:

  • The animals may suddenly stop eating and become sluggish.
  • Affected animals could exhibit symptoms of stomach discomfort including kicking at their stomach, laying down and getting up again, lying on their sides, panting, and wailing.
  • Animals may lose the ability to stand, lie on their sides, stretch their legs, and extend their head and neck back over their withers. Diarrhea may occur; in some instances, blood is visible in the loose stools.
  • The impacts of the chemicals on the brain are what are responsible for this posture. Death often happens minutes to hours after this symptom is seen.
  • Because enterotoxemia progresses so swiftly, animals may be discovered dead while showing no symptoms of the illness.
  • When the diet has a high proportion of grains, which are high in carbs, but little in roughage;


Diagnosis of enterotoxemia:


  • Clinical indicators, a history of sudden death, and a necropsy examination are used to make the diagnosis.
  • The presence of enterocolitis, anaerobic culture, and the detection of clostridium perfringens type d in the feces or intestinal contents of clinical or necropsy specimens of infected animals may all serve to confirm the diagnosis.
  • In both living and dead animals, the presence of hyperglycemia and glucosuria may strongly imply enterotoxemia. Information from necropsies is crucial for determining enterotoxemia’s cause.
  • To confirm the clinical diagnosis, deceased animals or a full set of necropsy tissues, feces, etc., should be sent to the diagnostic laboratory.
  • Watery contents, blood and fibrinous clots, and tiny lesions on the mucosa may all be seen during a postmortem inspection of the large and small intestines.
  • On physical inspection, the kidneys might seem mushy and pulpy, and the brain could show encephalomalacia (typically only observed in sheep).
  • The proximal tubules of the kidney may exhibit rapid autolysis or diffuse acute necrosis under a microscope. Intestinal specimens may have microscopic ulcers, superficial mucosal necrosis, many related clostridial organisms, and moderate suppurative inflammation.
  • Intestinal lumens often include high concentrations of clostridial organisms, which may indicate clostridial enteritis or enterotoxemia.
  • The enormous development of clostridial organisms after the animal’s death sometimes inhibits a conclusive diagnosis of enterotoxemia during necropsy.
  • To confirm the diagnosis, specific DNA testing tests (PCR) for clostridium perfringens type d may be helpful. Additionally, an ELISA kit is available for the identification of the c. Perfringens organisms from intestinal contents as well as for the detection of several clostridial toxins, including the epsilon toxin.
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Treatment of enterotoxemia:

The following therapies may be suggested:

  • use the manufacturer’s recommended dosage of c & d antitoxin for clostridium perfringens (5 ml subcutaneously)
  • penicillin-based antibiotics; • orally given antacids
  • painkillers; anti-bloating medications
  • supportive therapy, such as intravenous or subcutaneous fluids; • probiotics following antibiotic therapy to assist the repopulation of the microorganisms in the G.I tract;
  • intramuscular vitamin b to prevent or cure the encephalomalacia
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  • Commercially available vaccinations are effective in preventing enterotoxemia in sheep and goats. The herd’s animals should all be immunized to lower the likelihood that they will get the illness, particularly the young ones. Vaccines that are intended for use in sheep and goats should be used, and you should heed the manufacturer’s instructions. Tetanus toxoids are also included in several commercially marketed vaccinations for enterotoxemia. Verify that the vaccination was correctly stored, kept chilled, and has not yet expired.
  • Vaccinations for young animals should be given at 4 weeks of age and then again a month later. Bucks and all other adults should have vaccination at least once a year. Avoid immunizing animals that seem sick and maintain accurate vaccination records for future reference.

Vaccination of enterotoxemia:

  • The mainstay of this illness prevention is vaccination. There are several vaccinations available for sheep and goats that protect the toxins produced by clostridium perfringens types c and d.
  • Many clinicians advise that sheep and goats have vaccinations with a vaccine that also induces protection against tetanus since tetanus is an important illness to avoid in sheep and goats. Because they provide immunity against all three of the relevant bacteria—clostridium tetani, the causative agent of tetanus, and clostridium perfringens types c and d—these vaccinations are sometimes referred to as “three-way” vaccines. Adult goats and sheep: all enterotoxemia/tetanus vaccinations need to be administered twice to a specific sheep or goat to produce an efficient immune response.
  • Typically, these dosages are given 10 to 14 days apart. The second vaccination should take place at least once a year after each adult sheep or goat has received these two doses. To maximize the number of antibodies present in the colostrum (first milk), many veterinarians advise that ewes and does be vaccinated around one to two months before the expected birth date. This helps to protect the newborn against enterotoxemia.
  • If immunizing animals when they are pregnant during that period is not practical for you, immunizing ewes and doing so at other times of the year seems to be successful.



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