Have you ever stumbled upon your livestock in the morning and discover that it had died during the night? Have you ever thought how strange such a scenario is, considering the animal never showed any sign of illness and nor was it bitten by a poisonous reptile? Chances are that your animal died due to one of the numerous clostridial diseases around.
Clostridial diseases are caused by bacteria that occur widely in nature or in soil, sewage, water and in the gut of animals. They cause a wide range of signs and effects. Whenever animals die after being sick for a short time or are suddenly found dead these diseases should be suspected.
These diseases include, amongst others; pulp kidney (bloednier), lamb dysentery (bloedpens) and enterotoxaemia (rooiderm). The signs are; the part of the body affected may be very swollen.
When the area is touched it feels spongy and is filled with gas bubbles Other signs are lameness, depression and swellings as a result of fluid under the skin (vuld have some signs, although they may come too late in the cycle of the diseases. Common names of diseases in this category are black quarter (sponssiekte), swollen head (dikkop) and malignant oedema.
According to an information booklet on clostridial diseases written and compiled by A.J Olivier and sanctioned by the South African Department of Agriculture, such diseases are caused by a variety of human factors too. Changing animal diets abruptly from poor to rich forage, such as placing animals on lush green pastures after the winter, places such Animals at risk.
Also, the sudden feeding of rich feeds such as maize, put your livestock at greater risk of these diseases. Another human factor leading to clostridial diseases, Olivier writes, is lack of care with procedures such as castration, tail docking, wound cleaning and treatment as well as helping animals to lamb or calve.
Stress, meaning any abnormal situation induced on livestock, such as sheep lambing in small camps could be fatal. Animals nibbling on carcasses or old bones, or drinking water, or eating feed contaminated by dead animals, is another red flag, writes Olivier. Vaccination against diseases is the best and most practical way to prevent animal losses. Consult your animal health technician or state veterinarian regarding a vaccination programme. Good management will also prevent many of these diseases. To determine the disease a postmortem should be done, and this may involve laboratory testing to identify the bacteria and toxin.
Samples must be collected as soon as possible after death. Ask your animal health technician or state veterinarian to collect the samples and send them to the laboratory.