Enterotoxemia

Enterotoxemia in goats (also sometimes referred to as Overeating Eating Disease or Pulpy Kidney) is caused by the bacteria Clostridium Perfringens C and D. Both of these strains of bacteria are found in low populations in the intestines of all goats, even perfectly healthy goats. 

What causes Enterotoxemia?

Typically the problem begins when something in the goat’s diet changes. Whether it is an increase in the consumption of grain or processed pellets, a sudden change in forage or even a sudden change in feeding time, any sudden change in diet can cause the pH in the rumen to drop to acidic levels and cause rumen contractions to slow down. This in turn creates an environment that allows the Clostridium Perfringens to thrive, causing an explosion in their populations. The bacteria release an extremely potent toxin which is absorbed into the blood stream and carried throughout the body, causing damage to various organs and to the brain.

Some of the symptoms to watch for include:

1.       Abdominal discomfort
2.       Loss of appetite
3.       Severe diarrhea that may contain blood

Enterotoxemia is a very fast, acute disease. In many cases death occurs only 12 hours after clinical signs appear. As such, without immediate action death tolls will increase very quickly. For this reason it is important to take quick action. Some treatment options include:

1.       Administering an antitoxin
2.       Administer antibiotics
3.       Use of probiotics
4.       Oral antacids in order to correct pH levels
5.       Oral electrolytes

Without immediate and aggressive treatment, recovery is unlikely.

How can I prevent Enterotoxemia?

As with many other diseases, preventing this disease is far more likely to be successful than treating it. In order to prevent this fatal disease, good management practices are important. Some recommended management practices include:

  1. Make dietary changes slowly at each feeding time, over  1-1 ½ days
  2. Set up a vaccination program:
    - Breeding bucks: once/year
    - Breeding does: 4-6 weeks before kidding.  Vaccinating during late gestation will offer some passive transfer to kids
    - Kids: approx 8 weeks of age

References

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