Clostridial Diseases & Pasteurellosis

Clostridial Diseases & Pasteurellosis
29 May 2019
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Clostridial Diseases & Pasteurellosis

Clostridial diseases and pasteurellosis accounted collectively for 25% of lamb deaths in 2015 (Fallen Stock Project). Clostridial diseases and pasteuellosis remain a serious threat to unvaccinated animals and it is important to remember that adult sheep, as well as lambs can be affected. 


Pasteurellosis is of considerable economic importance to the UK sheep industry and according to NADIS it was the most common cause of sudden death in lamb in the UK between August and December 2016.

Pasteurellosis is caused by two common bacteria: Bibersteinia trehalosi and Mannheimia haemolytica and typically causes pneumonia and death. young and store lambs are at highest risk of infection however sheep of all ages are at risk. The bacteria are carried by healthy sheep and disease is triggered by various stress factors:

  • Diet changes
  • Handling
  • Drenching
  • Bad weather, or weather changes
  • Weaning
  • Shearing
  • Transport 
  • Lambing
  • Other disease e.g. worms & fluke
  • Housing

Antibiotics will treat pasteurellosis if they are found early enough but as sudden death is often the first sign of disease antibiotics will not always be an option

Careful management can help to reduce stress, but stress cannot be avoided completely. Good planning is essential; try to ensure you handle your sheep as little as possible.

Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing pasteurellosis and preventing related losses. There is a wide range of vaccines available and they are good value and cost effective. 

Clostridial Disease

Clostridial diseases are also caused by bacteria. These bacteria are ubiquitous which means they are found everywhere - particularly in soil and the intestinal tract of animals and humans. These bacteria can release spores which once ingested reactivate and start producing toxins. These toxins then cause the damage associated with clostridial diseases. 

Like with pasteurellosis, trigger factors are important with the development of disease - the same factors associated with pasteurellosis. 

There are 10 different strains of importance, including the following:

  • Lamb Dysentry
  • Pulpy Kidney
  • Braxy
  • Tetanus
  • Blackleg
  • Bacterial Redwater

Each disease will present differently but clinical signs include scouring, abdominal pain, collapse, hind limb stiffness, convulsions and high temperature. However, as onset is rapid, often the first sign that anything is wrong is dead sheep - like with pasteurellosis. 

The age of the animal can indicate which clostridial disease is affecting the animal however there is some overlap and animals of all ages can be affected. 

Penicillin kills the bacterial, but antibiotics are rarely effective because of the quick onset of disease and animals are usually found dead or dying. Prevention is therefore essential. 


As can be seen from the table above there is a variety of vaccines available that vary in cost but are all below 90p. For more precise prices please contact the practice. 

If you have any questions about clostridial diseases or would like to speak to one of our vets about a vaccination program for your flock, please do not hesitate to contact us via the details below. 

Tel: 01934 852 650 (Mon- Fri: 8.30am - 5.00pm, emergencies accepted 24/7)