Clostridial Diseases In Sheep

Sheep are susceptible to various clostridial diseases, the most common of which is enterotoxaemia or Pulpy Kidney (Clostridium perfringens D).

The bacteria are found in the intestinal tract. They are able to form resistant spores in soil and the spores concentrate in areas of high sheep usage.

Clostridial diseases are a serious threat to unvaccinated sheep. Death occurs within hours of rapid bacterial multiplication and endotoxin production.

Almost all cases of clostridial disease are fatal despite treatment. Large losses can be experienced if sheep are not vaccinated or incorrectly vaccinated. With correct vaccination programmes for the ewes, the new-born lamb will be protected through the intake of colostrum.

Diseases caused by clostridia in sheep (and cattle) are

Clostridium perfringens Type A:  Enterotoxaemia, haemorrhagic enteritis

Clostridium perfringens Type B: Lamb Dysentery

Clostridium perfringens Type C: Necrotic Enteritis

Clostridium perfringens Type D: Enterotoxaemia, Pulpy Kidney

Clostridium chauvoei : Blackleg, Black Quarter

Clostridium novyi Type B: Infectious Necrotic Hepatitis

Clostridium septicum: Malignant oedema

Clostridium tetani: Tetanus, lockjaw

Clostridium sordelli: Sudden death syndrome, haemorrhagic enteritis

Clostridium haemolyticum; Bacilliary haemoglobinuria

Clostridium botulinum: Botulism


Vaccination Programme

The vaccine is administered subcutaneously, preferably under the loose skin in front of the shoulder at the side of the neck. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before using any product.

Lambs and previously unvaccinated adult sheep are given 2 doses, 6 weeks apart, followed by annual vaccination of vaccine which contains the required strains of Clostridium.  Immunity will be adequately developed 14 days after the second dose and will last for approximately 1 year.  Ewes should have their booster 2-6 weeks prior to lambing. This will ensure the passive protection of the lambs via the colostrum, and the lambs should be protected until 12 weeks of age.

Lambs may be vaccinated from 2 weeks of age, irrespective of the dam’s status.

Dr Hercu van Niekerk BVSC Hons

Dr Lesley Te Brugge BSc BVSc






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