For Clostridial Diseases and Pinkeye,
Prevention is Better than Treatment.

Clostridial Diseases 

  • Various species of the bacterial genus Clostridium can cause severe and often fatal diseases in cattle 
  • Bacteria can form spores that survive in the soil for years
  • Cattle can become infected by consuming clostridial spores in contaminated pastures or feed, or when spores are introduced into a wound
  • Both the bacteria and the toxins they produce can cause disease 
  • Treatment options are limited, so prevention is key

Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK or Pinkeye)

  • A highly contagious disease that can spread quickly
  • U.S cattle producers lose an estimated $150 million annually due to losses associated with pinkeye
  • In a study, calves with pinkeye weighed an average of 19.6 pounds less at weaning than healthy calves1
  • One or both eyes may be affected
  • If left untreated, pinkeye can lead to severe eye damage and blindness

For more details, click on specific diseases below: 

  • Blackleg

    What is blackleg?

    • A bacterial disease affecting the skeletal and cardiac muscles, caused by Clostridium chauvoei
    • Animals often die within 12 to 48 hours

    Cattle affected

    • Occurs mostly in rapidly growing animals 6 months to 2 years of age, but other ages can be affected
    • Animals are often in excellent body condition, on a high plane of nutrition

    Disease development

    • Blackleg doesn’t pass from animal to animal; cattle become infected from eating spores in soil
    • Spores can exist in the animal’s bloodstream and muscles without causing disease
    • Usually, some kind of muscle trauma enables the spores to grow and release toxins, causing local tissue death

    Signs

    • Lameness, depression, anorexia, fever
    • Swellings can develop at various body locations

    Diagnosis

    • Presumptive diagnosis made on signs and visible lesions
    • Confirmation by tissue testing
    • Affected muscles are dark red or black, with a rancid odor

    Treatment

    • Because animals typically die quickly, there’s often no time for treatment
    • If there is time, penicillin G procaine and supportive care (anti-inflammatory drugs, fluids) may help

    Disposal

    • Animals that die from blackleg can seed the environment with spores, increasing risk for future outbreaks
    • Carcasses should be burned or buried in deep ground

    Prevention

    • Vaccinate cattle under two years of age
    • Vaccinate cows in late gestation to help generate antibodies in colostrum
  • Malignant Edema (Gas Gangrene)

    What is gas gangrene (malignant edema)?

    • A bacterial disease caused by Clostridium septicum, but other species may be involved, including C. chauvoei, C. sordellii, C. perfringens and C. novyi 

    Cattle affected

    • Cattle of any age

    Disease development

    • Spores from environment enter the animal through wounds in the skin or mucosa
    • May occur after procedures such as castration

    Signs

    • Anorexia
    • Fever
    • Pitting edema, sloughing skin

    Diagnosis

    • Presumptive diagnosis made on signs and visible lesions
    • Confirmation by tissue testing

    Treatment

    • If there is time, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and tissue fenestration may help

    Prevention

    • Proper sanitation of surgical instruments
    • Multivalent vaccines are available
  • Enterotoxemia

    What is enterotoxemia?

    • A bacterial disease of the digestive tract caused by Clostridium perfringens Type C
    • Infection can also occur with C. perfringens Types A, B and D, but less commonly

    Cattle Affected

    • Newborn/Young calves

    Disease development

    • C. perfringens bacteria, in low numbers, are normal inhabitants of the GI tract
    • Inciting causes, such as stress or large intake of feed or milk, cause bacterial overgrowth
    • The bacteria produce a beta toxin, which damages the gut wall and can be absorbed into the bloodstream

    Signs

    • Depression, abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea sometimes with blood and mucus
    • Calf may go into shock, have convulsions and die suddenly

    Diagnosis

    • Tissue analysis (necropsy), bacterial culture

    Treatment

    • Antibiotics, clostridium antitoxin and supportive care including intravenous fluids and anti-inflammatory drugs

    Prevention

    • Vaccinate dams at pregnancy check to improve colostrum
    • Vaccinate calves shortly after birth
  • Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK or Pinkeye)

    What is pinkeye?

    • A highly contagious disease, causing inflammation of the cornea (clear surface of the eye) and conjunctiva (pink tissue lining the eyelids)
    • Can lead to corneal ulceration and blindness
    • Bacteria involved may include Moraxella bovis, Moraxella bovoculi, Mycoplasma bovis and Mycoplasma bovoculi 

    Cattle Affected

    • Calves are more likely to develop pinkeye, but any age can be affected

    Disease Development

    • Pinkeye is multifactorial, meaning that multiple factors can contribute to the development of disease
    • It usually starts with eye irritation
    • Bacteria are transmitted by contact with secretions from an infected animal, face flies or objects carrying organisms

    Signs

    • Excessive tearing, sensitivity to light
    • Loss of appetite
    • Ulcer on surface of cornea, which may appear as white spot

    Diagnosis

    • Physical exam
    • Culture and sensitivity
    • Advanced diagnostics, if needed

    Treatment

    • Topical and/or injectable antibiotics
    • Surgery in severe cases
    • Early intervention is best to minimize eye damage and reduce bacterial spread

    Prevention

    • Vaccination before typical pinkeye season
    • Clip weeds and tall grass from pasture where possible
    • Recurrent infections in a herd may benefit from custom-made vaccines
 

Beef Clostridial and Pinkeye Products

Cattle Clostridial Education and Resources

Is Blackleg a Threat Lurking on Your Beef Cattle Operation?

Blackleg is a clostridial disease that can be devastating for beef producers. Learn more about blackleg, how it spreads and what you can do to prevent an outbreak.

 

Videos on Clostridial Conditions in Cattle

Protect Your Herd from Blackleg

One of the first signs of blackleg is acute death. Dr. DL Step with Boehringer Ingelheim explains how to protect cattle from bacterial spores in the environment. 

Clinical Signs of Pinkeye

Typically affecting calves at 2 to 3 months of age, pinkeye can lead to blindness if left untreated. Dr. Richard Linhart of Boehringer Ingelheim shares common signs that could help you catch a pinkeye case earlier. 

Beef Products

To help keep your cattle in top condition, you can rely on Boehringer lngelheim for a broad range of products, including:

To help keep your cattle in top condition, you can rely on Boehringer lngelheim for a broad range of products, including:

1 Snowder GD, Van Vleck LD, Cundiff LV et al. Genetic environmental factors associated with incidence of infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis in preweaned beef calves. J Anim Sci. 2005;83:507-518.