July 2012 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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Clostridium perfringens Type 'A' is commonly found in cattle, particularly dairy cattle, but up until about two years ago has not been recognized as an illness attacking goats. I suspect that goats died from C. perfringens Type 'A' and the owners simply did not know what it was. Type 'A' has been confirmed in dairy cows, beef cows, deer, and now in goats, even if they were not exposed to or housed near dairy cows. Vectors for disease spread include birds, wildlife, soles of shoes, and contact with infected goats (at shows, for example).This is a rapid onset disease of the gastrointestinal tract, characterized by explosive and uncontrollable diarrhea, gut pain, abdominal distention, bloat, depression, and death. It leads to Hemmoragic Bowel Syndrome (often called "bloody gut") and generally has an 85% fatality rate in cattle in 24-36 hours. This is a very serious and potentially deadly disease.

There are five types of Clostridium perfringens toxins. Type A alpha toxin receives no cross protection from other toxin types. In other words, seven-way and eight-way vaccines and CD/T vaccines do not work to prevent Type 'A' clostridium perfringens outbreaks. Furthermore, C&D anti-toxin is not effective against it either. Type 'A' exists in nature, but anything that changes the pH of the rumen (silage is but one example) can set up an environment for its outbreak.

Julia Shewchuk at Serenity Acres Farm in Florida raises goats and has shared with me her recent experience with Clos. perfringens Type 'A' which was confirmed through fecal testing done at the Texas State Veterinary Lab in April 2012. Julia's goats had explosive diarrhea; fecal material went from healthy goat pills to mucousy diarrhea in 15 minutes. Both the diarrhea and the goats themselves had a very distinctive sour smell. Body temperatures were not elevated above normal but visible stomach pain existed. The disease responded to sulfa-based antibiotics (SMZ in combination with pepto bismol) but feces returned to slushy yogurt and then breadloaf consistency within 48 hours and back to goat pellets by the third day. Intensive supportive care was required, but symptoms reappeared randomly and with varying degrees of intensity over extended periods of time.

Along with her vet's help, Julia obtained and vaccinated with Norvartis' Clostridium perfringens Type 'A' vaccine, dosing with 2 cc's and boostering at 2 to 3 weeks. A few of her goats needed a third booster after about three weeks. None of the goats had adverse reactions to the vaccine and she vaccinated every goat older than three months of age. (The Novartis C. perfringens Type 'A' vaccine is safe for use with pregnant cows, so she assumed its safety with pregnant does.) Her vet recommended that this vaccine be incorporated into her normal vaccine regimen, along with CD/T, pneumonia, and other vaccinations. Jeffers (1-800-533-3377) now carries the Novartis vaccine to protect against C. perfringens Type 'A.' Contact Averil McKnight at Jeffers if you want further details.

I don't want to alarm goat producers into thinking that every outbreak of diarrhea is Type 'A' clostridium perfringens. It won't be. But if you have repeated illnesses with symptoms such as those described in this article and nothing you do is getting it under control, then consider the possibility that you have this disease in your herd and have fecal testing done. Remember that most problems with goats are caused by the simplest and often most overlooked things like worms, coccidiosis, pneumonia, dehydration, and nutritional and mineral deficiencies. Start with the simple things first and eliminate them before you assume that the most exotic illness has taken over your herd. Read my article entitled Diagnosing Illnesses on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 6/9/12


In Memory of Mimi... 4-20-2000/6-27-2012
One of the ever vigilant Anatolian Shepherd
livestock guardian dogs at Onion Creek Ranch™



Contact Suzanne Gasparotto at
325-344-5775 for prices and availability.




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