Clostridium perfringens type B
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Thursday, 16th October 2014

 ‘Lamb dysentery’,’ Bloedpens’, ‘Bloodgut’  ‘Enterotoxeamia’ ‘Rooiderm’

It usually affects very young kids (usually less than 2 weeks old) causing acute haemorrhagic to muco-haemorrhagic enteritis resulting in death. The kids may die within a few hours or 1-4 days.

 It occurs more in winter and spring and is often with associated with cold weather. It is seldom seen in summer. The soil becomes contaminated by faeces and may survive for months. It occurs more under intensification in kidding pens, sheds, lands or kraals. The teats of the ewes become contaminated by faeces and soil and the kids pick up the infection when suckling. Clostridium perf B only survives for months in the soil while Clostridium perf A survives indefinitely in the soil

The Clsotridium perfringens B produces alpha, beta and epsilon toxins.

The reason neonates are more susceptible to the Beta toxin is that trypsin is not secreted in sufficient amounts by the kids to inactivate the toxin. It is interesting to note that goats with a high levels of brown stomach worm  causes the pH of the abomasum to rise which  in effect causes trypsoinogen not to be converted to trypsin.

The toxins in the  intestinal tract cause’s necrosis of the tissue and ulceration leading to increased peristalsis and diarrhoea. Kids die from dehydration, acidosis, toxaemia and shock.

Clinical signs:

The condition is usually seen towards the end of the kidding period. If the disease has been prevalent the previous season then it can be seen within the first 2 weeks of the next kidding.

 Young effected kids usually die without showing clinical signs. As many as 20-30% of kids may be effected. Those kids showing signs (usually older 2-4 weeks) may have abdominal pain (reluctant to stand and when lifted may stand with an arched back(, bleat and have diarrhoea which may be brownish-grey and blood stained. The diarrhoea has an offensive smell.

Post Mortem:

There may be serous or blood stained exudate in the peritoneal cavity. The liver and kidney  shows signs of degeneration. Oedema and congestion of the lungs usually occurs. Fluid is found in the pericardial cavity. Epi and endocardial haemorrhages are frequently found on the heart muscle walls.

Severe haemorrhagic enteritis is found. Small ulcers, pin head up to 10mm may be found on the mucosal lining.

Symptoms are similar to Escherichia coli but ulcers are absent.




Treatment is usually not feasible due to acute nature of the disease. Antibiotics (Tetracyclines and penicillin) can be effective in mild cases combined with supportive treatment.

In an outbreak:

  • Isolate the kids and ewes.
  • Move healthy ewes and kids away from the area to an area where they have not previously kidded.
  • Ensure kids ingest colostrum within first 6 hours after birth
  • Tetracycline or penicillin antibiotics with supportive treatment for milder effected kids.


VACCINATE the ewes  and ensure a booster  vaccination is given 4-6 weeks before kidding to ensure high level of antibodies in the colostrum.


  • Covexin can be given from 2 weeks of age
  • Coglavax is usually given at 8 weeks old (can be given at 2 weeks if ewe was unvaccinated)
  • OBP Lamb Dysentery: Ewes vaccinated 4 and 1 week before kidding and boosters 2 weeks before kidding.


REF:  Kriek, Odendaal, Hunter (Infectious diseases of livestock)

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