In this complete guide to tetanus in goats, we answer the most common questions that farmers ask about this serious condition, including what it is, symptoms, treatments, and more.
What is Tetanus in Goats?
Tetanus is a fatal disease caused by the toxin produced by bacteria. The causative agent of tetanus is bacteria clostridium tetani that release toxin within the body of the animal. These toxins released within the goat’s body will lead to the painful contraction of the muscles, specifically of neck and jaw muscles.
Almost all mammals are prone to tetanus, while cats and dogs are more resistant as compared to other lab or domestic animals. Tetanus is present all over the world. The tetanus toxins are present in the cultivated soil, and the occurrence of tetanus is more in warmer parts of the world.
Toxins released by the Clostridium tetani within the wound caused by the injury or during hoof trimming. The bacterium is sensitive to oxygen; therefore, the deep wounds is the most desirable place for the bacteria to release its toxins. Tetanus is fatal with the ability to threaten life by causing difficult breathing and death.
What Causes Tetanus in Goats?
Clostridium tetani, a bacteria, is the causative agent of tetanus. This bacterium is present in the faeces of the infected animals, soil, and in the dust present on the skin of the goats.
By having a penetrating wound due to wire, grass seed, nail, bites from the dog, or injury during hoof trimming, castration, surgical operations, or dehorning, may develop the opportunity for the bacteria to induce tetanus toxins.
A persistent neck rubbing by a chained goat can produce skin lesions that lead to tetanus too. Faeces of the horse are also a rich source of clostridium tetani. Therefore, proper removal of the wastes should be at the farm to avoid the cause of tetanus.
Tetanus Symptoms in Goats
Initially, the goat will have a rigid gait, along with anxiety and mild bloat. As the toxins of tetanus spread throughout the body, there will be leg extension of the goats, i.e. the front legs will extend forward.
Hind legs will extend backwards, severe salivation, the goat will not be able to stand, stiffness of the neck occurs, the head moved to one side, constipation, ear and tail rigidity, seizures, and goat will not be able to open the mouth (lockjaw). The goat will die within or less than 36 hours after the getting down.
Tetanus Antitoxin for Goats
Tetanus anti-toxins are medication made from the antibodies against tetanus. These antitoxins are used as preventive measures against tetanus especially in the wounds that are at high risk. It is for those animals that are not vaccinated against tetanus toxins.
These antitoxins for tetanus are usable along with the antibiotics and medicines for muscle relaxation. These are accessible in the form of injections. These antitoxins provide passive immunity (immunity that develops after having antibodies from other individuals) that last from 7-14 days.
Tetanus Antitoxin Dose for Goats - How much to give your goat
Inject 5ml of antitoxins to the goats as a prevention. Administer two doses of tetanus antitoxin under the skin at an interval of thirty days. After injection, avoid slaughtering the goats before twenty-one days.
However, there is still studying go on to see the effect of tetanus antitoxins in pregnant goats. Properly store between the temperature of 2-8 o C and avoid mixing it with any other products. It is advisable to store the entire content when opened.
There are chances of local reaction development at the site of injection. If such reaction occurs, apply adrenaline or other such medicine under the supervision of the veterinarian.
Double the dose of prevention to treat the goats having tetanus. To have a rapis effect of the treatment with antitoxin, inject the antitioxins in veins with an interval of 12 hours.
Treatment of Tetanus
Immediate administration of the tetanus antitoxin before locating or cleaning the wounded site is necessary. The quick injection is crucial because disturbing the site while cleaning can spread the toxins with the body and to other animals.
After injecting antitoxin, clean the wound by using hydrogen peroxide to remove any dirt, hair and other debris around the wound. Inject a broad-spectrum antibiotic like penicillin, for five days at the dose rate of 5 cc/ 100 pounds to stop the release of toxin within the body.
Administration of second antitoxin injection after twelve hours is necessary or more doses of antitoxin if the wound hasn’t be located. Isolate the infected goat from rest of the herd, and provide the goat with a dark surrounding.
Usage of milk of magnesia or an enema may help to reduce constipation. Administration of glucose through veins will help to fulfil the body requirements as the animal may not eat or drink anything. Complete recovery from tetanus may take several weeks. However, the recovery is not sure as tetanus is a fatal disease.
Preventing Tetanus in Goats
Prevention against tetanus is quite easy by regularly vaccinating the goats with toxoid of tetanus. Other factors to prevent goats from tetanus are to provide them with clean living facilities. It is always better to protect kids at a young age against different clostridium diseases including tetanus. The ideal age of kids for vaccination is one month while the second shot at two months of age.
Vaccinate the female goat a weak before the parturition as this will provide passive immunity to the young newborn till the kid reaches the age to follow the vaccination series. Also, vaccinate all the male goats too.
Vaccinate the males when castrated if the male doesn’t have the vaccination shots in the past. If the males have the vaccination shots in history, do provide them with a booster dose of toxoid during castration. Vaccinate the newly purchased goats with two shots with a gap of one month between the two shots. This will maximise the protection in the goats against tetanus.
Make sure to eradicate the confusion between tetanus toxoid and tetanus antitoxin. Toxoid is the vaccination against tetanus, i.e. protection or prevent from tetanus. Two injections of tetanus toxoid with an interval of twenty-eight days and the one injection per year will help to avoid from tetanus.
However, tetanus antitoxins are the immediate protection for the goats when the disease outbreak takes place within the herd. If the goats survive, wait a minimum five days from the last injection of tetanus antitoxin and start a new series of two doses of toxoid.