Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious medical condition caused by the neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This bacterium is commonly found in soil and animal feces and can enter the body through small wounds or cuts. Once inside the body, the bacteria release a potent neurotoxin that affects the central nervous system, leading to muscle stiffness, spasms, and potentially life-threatening complications.
Tetanus Management in Goats
Causes of Tetanus Disease
The causes of tetanus disease are mainly attributed to the neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This bacterium is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria that are strictly anaerobic, motile, and spore-forming, giving it a “drumstick appearance.” There are ten serotypes of C. tetani based on flagellar antigens, but all produce the same neurotoxin called tetanospasmin. The spores of C. tetani are highly resistant to chemicals and boiling, making them difficult to eradicate from contaminated surfaces.
Transmission of Tetanus Disease
- Tetanus disease is typically transmitted through the introduction of the spores of Clostridium tetani into the body through wounds, particularly deep puncture wounds that provide an ideal anaerobic environment for the bacteria to grow
- Grazing on rough and spiky pastures can also increase the risk of tetanus by injuring the oral mucosa and facilitating the invasion of the bacteria. In addition, poor wound care and hygiene can also increase the risk of tetanus by allowing the bacteria to enter the body through open wounds.
- Most outbreaks of tetanus occur following mass contamination of animals during surgical procedures, such as castration, vaccination, ear tagging, and docking. These procedures can create wounds that are ideal for the growth of C. tetani and the introduction of spores into the animal’s body.
- Once the spores of C. tetani enter the body, they remain dormant in tissues and can increase and produce toxins under favorable conditions. The neurotoxin produced by C. tetani causes toxemia and the characteristic symptoms of tetanus, including muscle stiffness, spasms, and potentially life-threatening complications.
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Disease Cycle of Tetanus in Goat
- The disease cycle of tetanus in goats typically begins with the introduction of Clostridium tetani spores into the animal’s body through wounds, such as cuts, puncture wounds, or surgical incisions. These wounds provide an anaerobic environment favorable for the growth of C. tetani and the production of neurotoxins.
- Once inside the body, the spores of C. tetani can remain dormant for an extended period until conditions become favorable for growth and toxin production. The spores can proliferate and produce toxins in necrotic tissue, particularly in poorly oxygenated wounds.
- The neurotoxin produced by C. tetani causes the characteristic symptoms of tetanus, including muscle stiffness, spasms, and potentially life-threatening complications. The toxin blocks the release of neurotransmitters that control muscle relaxation, leading to uncontrolled muscle contractions and spasms.
- In goats, tetanus outbreaks are most commonly associated with surgical procedures, such as castration, vaccination, ear tagging, and docking, which can create wounds that are ideal for the growth of C. tetani. Grazing on rough and spiky pastures can also increase the risk of tetanus by injuring the oral mucosa and facilitating the invasion of the bacteria.
Symptoms of Tetanus Disease in Goat
In goats, the symptoms of tetanus disease usually appear within four days to 3 weeks after exposure to the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The initial signs of tetanus in goats include muscle stiffness, tremors, and prolapse of the third eyelid. The animal may appear restless and agitated.
As the disease progresses, the animal may experience rigidity and extension of the limbs, leading to a stiff gait and abnormal flexion of the joints. Tetany of the masseter muscles can cause drooling of saliva and