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Enterotoxaemia in Goats
Enterotoxaemia is an important, potentially lethal poisoning disease of goats, sheep, and cattle, caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. We suspect that on our farm about 1/3 of the goat deaths were caused by enterotoxaemia. C. perfringens releases epsilon toxin (ETX), which is extremely poisonous. ETX damages the intestines and, because it enters the blood stream, also other vital organs (systemic damages, e.g. brain, kidney, liver, etc.).
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From our health records it seems that the survival rate of young animals (< 1 years) is lower than the survival rate of older animals (see figure right), whereas no relationship could be found between the occurrence of enterotoxaemia and the age of the goat or the season. Furthermore, our data confirm that feeding concentrate (e.g. grain, pellets), or an abrupt change of diet are not a prerequisites for enterotoxaemia to occur.
All our goats have been vaccinated, but it remains unknown to what extend vaccination actually protects goats against enterotoxaemia. Based on scientific experiments it was suggested that the protection against systemic damages is better that the protection against intestine damages, because the antibodies are mainly present and active in the blood stream, and only to a lesser extend also in the intestine. This could explain why some of our goats survived. They still suffered from bad, watery diarrhea with mucous, blood and shreds of intestinal mucosa, but the antibodies in the blood prevented ETX to cause fatal systemic damages.
Our data also suggest that treatment with a drug like Scourban that reduces the bacterial growth and helps to inactivate bacterial toxins can substantially increase the chance of the affected goat to survive enterotoxaemia.
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