Drought causing increase in bacterial diseases in East Texas livestock
NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - People aren’t the only ones dealing with a drought in East Texas, as the conditions are perfect for Clostridium diseases to spread in East Texas livestock.
The diseases, like blackleg which usually infects calves, aren’t usually widespread according to Veterinarian Derek Grant.
“We usually have zero,” Grant said. “In a good year, you don’t hear anything about it.”
But, with dry conditions, they’ve begun to run rampant in East Texas. Veterinarian Jake David said he’s seeing new cases daily in cattle, sheep and goats.
“This year I’ve seen probably the most Clostridiul cases in my sixteen years of practice,” David said.
He said cases have quadrupled this year due to the weather. After droughts, a short period of rain causes the bacteria to spread.
“Clostridium is found in the ground, and after a good rain, you’ll get a vegetative state and then a spore state when it dries back out,” David said.
The diseases are hard to spot, with most changes happening in the muscles of livestock; they usually turn fatal quickly, according to Grant.
“It might just be a small pocket that’s only a few inches wide, few inches long, but because it creates septicemia, they die quickly,” Grant said.
Usually, it’s too late when ranchers realize something is wrong.
“Common deal is they’re not moving normal, they’re moving slower, and then the next time they check on him, he’s down,” Grant said. “He’s dead.”
Grant and David both said the best measure to combat Clostridium diseases is a vaccine, which you can pick up at a feed store for a dollar, according to Grant.
While the fatality rate for the diseases is high, if the disease is detected early enough by a veterinarian, a shot of penicillin can save the animal’s life.
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