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Signs And Symptoms Of Enterotoxemia Disease in Cows

Symptoms of enterotoxemia in cows

Cows are important animals in our lives as they provide us with essential products like milk and meat that are good for our health. But just like all other animals, cows suffer from serious diseases that can be fatal if not diagnosed on time. One of the fatal cow diseases is enterotoxemia which is also referred to as overeating disease. Enterotoxemia occurs when the cow consumes a lot of carbohydrates that are not digested. The undigested carbohydrates stimulate the growth of type D bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens that produces harmful toxins that damage the cow's intestines. Affected cattle tend to consume high amounts of grain hence the name overeating disease.

Symptoms of Enterotexemia

Neurological signs: the nerological signs of enterotoxemia develop a few hours before the cow dies. They include; convulsions, blindness and mania. Some cows may tend to behave as if they are in a daze for about two to three days.

Internal signs: most cows suffering from the enterotoxemia disease will have some internal infections that can be identified with the help of an autopsy. Structural abnormalities in the cow's intestines may be observed as a result of type D bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens that release harmful toxins. These structural abnormalities will spread to affect the heart and the other abdominal muscles. Before death, the kidney will decompose.

Sudden death: most cases of enterotexemia, do not show any serious signs and an infected cow may die unexpectedly. The cattle will not have other signs like weight loss due to its overeating it will be very healthy and its death can be shocking to the owner.

Affected animals are unable to stand and they lay on their sides extending their legs, their neck and head extend back over the withers. This results from the effect of the toxins in the brain. Death occurs a few hours after this sign.

Some cows may develop stomach pain that is accompanied by diarrhea that may contain visible blood.


Treatment of Enterotexemia

The treatment of enterotexemia can only be successful is the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. During late stages, enterotexemia cannot be treated. Early enterotexemia is treated with pastes of good bacteria, antisera and oral electrolyte solutions. Antisera is an antibody solution that neutralizes the toxins produced by bacteria. Severe cases are treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and other essential supportive care like oxygen supplements.

How to Prevent Enterotexemia

  • Vaccination: this is the best and sure way of preventing enterotoxemia. The best vaccinations are the ones that provide immunity against toxins and most of these vaccines are administered in two doses. Pregnant cows should be vaccinated two or three months before delivery to protect the calf.
  • Proper feeding: proper and balanced feeding will keep the cow strong and immune to any infections. Avoid feeding the cattle with too much starch and sugar as they provide good environment from the spread of the toxin causing bacteria. If planning to change the diet, do so gradually to assist the good bacteria in the stomach accommodate the new diet.
  • Regular checkups: it is also good to have a veterinary doctor check your cattle often. This will help in the early diagnosis of any cattle disease that may threaten the life of your cow.
By winnie mwihaki, published at 03/18/2012
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