Clostridium Perfringens Type D

Clostridium perfringens type D ‘enterotoxaemia’ ‘pulpy kidney’ 

Young goats in good condition are most susceptible.

Clostridium perfringens type D occurs normally in the intestinal tract of goats. 

Predisposing factors to disease outbreaks include:

  • Changes in diet,
  • Stasis of the intestinal tract,
  • Grazing on fodder crops,
  • High protein and energy diets
  • Deworming,
  • Coccidiosis
  • Sudden changes in the weather
  • Wilting of pasture.

The interval between predisposing factor and disease may be 2-14 days (usually 7-14).

Ruminal flora adapt to a diet over several days and when a feed is changed to one with a high starch content the flora has not adapted some of the starch which would normally be converted to fatty acids in the rumen pass into the intestine where it results in the proliferation of Clostridium perfringens type D and production of toxins including epsilon toxin. The epsilon toxin is activated by trypsin in the small intestine which increases the toxicity by thousand-fold. The toxin causes an increase in the permeability of capillaries.

Clinical signs:

  • Goats are usually found dead without clinical signs.
  • Signs before death include:  neurological hypersensitivity, staggering gait, knuckling of fetlocks. They lie down, salivate, have convulsions, opisthotonus (head and neck pulled back) and enter coma state.

3 syndromes occur in goats:

 (i) Sudden death

 (ii) Diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort which result in death or recovery after 2-4 days

 (iii) Chronic syndrome which may last a few days characterised by diarrhoea and weight loss. 

Post Mortem:

  • Goats are usually in good condition. Lesions are not constant and may be absent in some
  • Rapid post mortem changes occur, especially kidneys..
  • Haemorrhages in sub cutaneous tissue of the neck and shoulders, muscles of abdomen and diaphragm, epicardium and endocardium especially left ventricle and thymus.
  • Excessive amount fluid in pericardial sac which clots partially when exposed to air is not always present in goats.
  • Congestion and lung oedema occur.
  • Gas distended small intestine with green or reddish tinged and mucoid content.
  • Mesenteric lymph nodes are swollen.
  • Kidneys are severely congestion with haemorrhages ‘bloednier’.
  • Glycosuria which dissipates with time can also be found.


As goats usually die acutely treatment is not possible. Treating goats with long acting tetracyclines in the interval between vaccination and immunity may help.

Avoid predisposing factors.

Vaccination is critical

Adapt goats to changes in diet

Dr Mackie Hobson

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