The term Clostridials refers to many different species of bacteria in the genus Clostridium. Many of these bacteria can cause severe, costly, and life-threatening disease. One of the most well-known disease is “Blackleg”.
This is a deadly disease often found in growing calves. It affects the muscles, including the heart, and causes muscle death. Another well-known Clostridial disease is “tetanus”. This can affect cattle of all ages, but is most commonly diagnosed in calves. Some risk factors for tetanus include castrations, dehorning, hoof abscesses or punctures, and reusing dirty needles. These diseases are preventable with proper vaccination and proper husbandry measures.
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-What is Clostridium?
Clostridium is a type of disease causing bacteria that has many different species. Each specie causes a different type of infection or disease. There are certain exotoxins associated with each specie, and it is the exotoxin that causes the clinical conditions in cattle.
-Do only calves get infected by Clostridium bacteria?
While calves less than a year old are more likely to become infected by one type of Clostridium or another, cattle of all ages or phase of production are susceptible to infection.
-Which diseases are caused by Clostridium?
Some of the more common Clostridial diseases are:
Over-eating Disease; Pulpy Kidney Disease
-Are Clostridium diseases contagious?
These diseases are not contagious in the traditional sense. They are not easily transmitted from cow to cow. Most of these disease causing bacteria live in contaminated environments or in the digestive tract of cattle. Under certain conditions, these bacteria will grow rapidly and cause disease.
-Risk factors of Clostridium:
1. Unvaccinated animals
2. Punctures or cuts from contaminated objects
3. Reusing dirty needles
4. Ingesting contaminated feed or hay
5. Liver flukes
-How serious is Clostridium?
All of the Clostridial diseases have the potential to become very serious and even life-threatening. Some of these can even infect people.
-Can Clostridium impact my herd, or just affect one animal?
That depends on the type of Clostridium. Usually, only a few animals are affected, but some infections can spread through a herd.
-Can Clostridium infections be treated or prevented?
Most of these infections can be treated; however, some (i.e. Botulism and Tetanus) are very hard to treat and these animals usually die. There are several vaccines available, and most provide decent protection against disease. It is important to work with your herd veterinarian to develop a vaccination protocol based on the greatest risk to your animals.