Clostridium Chauvoei
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Wednesday, 21st February 2018

Gas gangrene, Blackquarter, ‘sponsiekte’

Blackquater also known as ‘sponsiekte’ is a very rare clostridium infection following wound infection in Angora goats (usually cattle). Goats are more resistant than sheep to infection.

The infection causes gangrenous myositis, localised cellulitis and is usually fatal. Death is caused by the systemic effect of the toxins. There has been difficulty differentiating C. chauvoei from C. septicum (’Baarmoeder sponsiekte’)

When do outbreaks occur?

Usually in summer and autumn after heavy rains.

Spores can survive for years in the environment. The main source of these spores appear to be animals that have died of the disease.


How long is the incubation period?

The outbreak may occur within 24hrs and clinical signs are not always seen.


What are the usual sites and cause of infection?

  • The areas of infection are related to the area of trauma such as injury to the vaginal mucosa during kidding or open castration.
  • Dipping after shearing when goats have shearing wounds.
  • Vaccinating with unhygienic needles
  • Umbilical cord infection

What are the clinical signs?

The tissue becomes swollen, dark red and gassy. Blood stained droplets ooze from the skin.

When infected post partus the peri-anal tissue becomes severely swollen and gassy.


Post mortem findings:

  • Bloated carcase
  • Bloody discharge from nose and anus
  • Rapid decomposition
  • Affected muscle may ooze yellow fluid and contain bubbles of gas
  • ‘Harsslag sponssiekte’- pericarditis can be seen in cattle and sheep



  • Antibiotics (penicillin)

If the goats survives the skin, muscle often sluffs and the open wounds need to be treated.



  • Vaccination (see clostridium vaccines under the Vaccination tab).
  • Dispose of dead goats (appear t be main source of infection in the environment)
  • Hygiene


The sheep health, disease and production (West, Bruere, Ridler)

Infectious diseases of Livestock (Coetzer, Thomson, Tustin)

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