Animal Health & Disease Management



Description: Enterotoxaemia is caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens, an organism which occurs worldwide in the soil and in the gastrointestinal tract of animals. It is characterized by the ability to produce potent toxins (poisons). The bacteria are also capable of forming spores which survive for very long periods in soil. Five types have been identified, the most important of which are B, C and D.

The spores of Clostridium perfringens Types B, C and D are found in soil and faeces of normal animals in areas where disease is prevalent as well as in the intestinal contents of infected sheep. Their presence in the intestinal tract of normal animals is important because they are able to form the focus for a fatal infection as and when conditions alter to allow their rapid multiplication.

The organism multiplies extremely rapidly in the presence of high levels of carbohydrate when oxygen tension is low. Thus, in cases of Lamb Dysentery, disease is most prevalent in lambs which ingest large quantities of milk. So heavily-milking breeds are more susceptible than lighter-milking breeds. A similar situation exists with Pulpy Kidney Disease, when a change of diet from one consisting mostly of roughage to one predominating in grain, allows starch granules to move into the duodenum, where they form an ideal medium for the multiplication of the bacteria, which produce toxin (poison).


a) Types B and C (Dysentery)

These types cause severe enteritis (stomach infection), dysentery (very severe diarrhea, often with blood and mucous), toxaemia (blood poisoning) and high mortality in young lambs, calves, pigs and foals. 

  • Types B and C both produce the highly necrotizing and lethal beta toxin, which is responsible for severe intestinal damage.  Adult cattle, sheep and goats can be affected by enterotoxaemia caused by Type C. 
  • Lamb Dysentery occurs in lambs up to three weeks of age and is caused by Type B.
  • Calf Enterotoxaemia is caused by Types B and C in well fed calves up to one month of age. 
  • Pig Enterotoxaemia occurs during the first few days of life and is caused by Type C. 
  • Foal Enterotoxaemia occurs during the first week of life and is caused by Type B.
  • Struck is caused by Type C in adult sheep, while Goat Enterotoxaemia in adult goats is also caused by Type C.


Signs of Enteroxamia (Dysentery)

Lamb dysentery is an acute disease of lambs less than three weeks old. Many die before symptoms are seen. Others stop suckling, become listless, have a foetid (foul smelling), blood-tinged diarrhoea and die within a few days. 

In calves there is acute diarrhoea, dysentery, abdominal pain and convulsions. Death may occur within a few hours, but less severe cases may survive for a few days and occasionally recovery may occur.

Struck is characterized by sudden death in adult sheep.



Typical sign in all cases is a bloody inflammation of the guts (haemorrhagic enteritis) with ulceration of the mucosa.  Under the microscope stained smears of the gut contents reveal large numbers of gram positive rod-shaped bacteria.


Control and Prevention

  • Because the disease is so severe, treatment is ineffective.  Oral administration of antibiotics may be helpful in some cases.
  • The disease in lambs is best controlled by vaccination of the pregnant dam during the last third of pregnancy, initially 2 vaccinations one month apart and annually thereafter.
  • When outbreaks occur in newborn animals from unvaccinated dams, antiserum, if available, should be administered immediately after birth.
  • Type D  (Pulpy Kidney Disease)
  • This type causes Pulpy Kidney Disease of sheep.   
  • It occurs world wide and may occur in animals of any age, but occurs most commonly in 3 – 12 week old lambs and in fattening lambs 6 – 12 months old.  Single lambs are more susceptible than twins. Mortality is usually 100%.
  • It is caused by the rapid multiplication of the organism in the small intestine and the subsequent absorption of the epsilon toxin, which is produced by the organism in the intestine.
  • Lambs on lush grazing or being fed grain in feedlots, are particularly at risk.


b) Pulpy Kidney disease

Pulpy Kidney Disease is peracute (very fast killing) with most cases being found dead. Those that are observed before death show hyperaesthesia (excessive reaction to being touched and other stimuli), staggering progressing to lying down, with its head twisted back over the back, intermittent convulsions, occasional diarrhoea and death. Affected animals do not recover.



In lambs the circumstances of sudden convulsive death in the best conditioned lambs strongly indicate Pulpy Kidney. Laboratory diagnosis involves demonstration of the presence of toxin and is not carried out routinely in Kenya.


Control and Prevention

There are two main control measures available:

  1. Reduction in the food intake. Immediately moving lambs from a lush pasture to a poorer one may help to minimize losses, and similarly avoidance of any sudden changes in diet which are likely to result in acidosis and promote conditions favourable to multiplication of the organism and production of toxin.
  2. Vaccination: Ewe immunization is probably the most satisfactory method of control. Breeding ewes should be given 2 injections of Type D Toxoid in their first year and 1 injection 4 -6 weeks before lambing each year thereafter.


Lambs should receive their first vaccination dose when 8-12 weeks old and a second dose 4-6 weeks later.

Polyvalent vaccines protecting against other clostridial diseases such as Blackquarter, and Tetanus, frequently incorporate components protection against Lamb Dysentery and Pulpy Kidney Disease, and the manufacturer’s instructions should be closely adhered to.



Pasteurellosis/Pneumonia/CCPP complex

Common names: Pneumonia

Description: Pneumonia affects mainly older weaned lambs/kids. It is often associated with  stress, overcrowding and poor  housing. The disease can quickly lead to death. Recovered animals may not be worth keeping, because they remain stunted (= growing very slowly and not reaching normal size).

The main underlying cause of pneumonia is poor immunity of the lambs/kids related to lack of colostrum, stress and poor feeding. Agents of respiratory infections in lambs/kids include:

  • CCPP is caused by a specific type of Mycoplasma, it only affects goats and kids while sheep and lambs remain healthy, if CCPP is in your goat herd many old goats have chronic and recurrent respiratory disease and most of the kids will die
  • In sheep lambs and goat kids Pasteurella multocida and Mannheimia haemolytia are the most common cause of pneumonia


Signs of Pneumonia

  • Rise in temperature which can be as high as 40.5 - 42 ºC accompanied by watery discharge from the eyes and noses.
  • Discharge from the nose later becomes thick and contains pus.
  • Rapid breathing and cough
  • More severely affected lambs/kids lie down and breath very heavily to get enough air.
  • In very acute cases of pneumonia there can be death within 1 day.



The disease is obvious from the respiratory signs accompanied by fever.

Indicative signs of CCPP are the affection of goats only (not sheep) and that all ages in goats are very sick with severe respiratory symptoms. It must be confirmed by a laboratory.


Prevention and Control

  • If you have CCPP in your herds don’t struggle with wasting money on repeated treatments, it is costly and the disease keeps coming back; consult a veterinarian and start vaccination, specific CCPP vaccine is produced at KEVEVAPI, sometime it is best to cull the CCPP infected herd and buy new clean goats
  • Proper ventilation to minimize draughts and humidity and to reduce ammonia and other noxious gases
  • Avoid overcrowding in the stable and on pasture
  • Provide dry housing and warm bedding to prevent chilling which damage the normal protective mechanisms in the lambs and kids respiratory system
  • As with diarrhoea, ensure early and adequate intake of colostrums after birth; colostrum from the mother is a free vaccination against common disease agents and protects against pneumonia
  • In Europe and America there are vaccines against sheep pasteurellosis.


Recommended treatment

Long-acting Oxytetracycline plus Vit ADE given to all lambs / kids in the affected age group is the best antibiotic treatment.

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