Prevention of the main Clostridial diseases in cattle

  • Riccardo Compiani
Keywords: Clostridia, Clostridiosis, cattle


Clostridial diseases of cattle are an economic and welfare issue worldwide. Clostridia are obligate anaerobic spore-forming gram-positive bacteria able to cause a wide range of pathologies in humans and animals. Pathogenicity is expressed by sporulation in favourable environmental condition with release of toxins. Toxins produced and tissues damaged are generally characteristic for each clostridial. The incidence of clostridiosis is relatively low however the outcome is generally very poor despite the bacteria being sensitive to the most common antibiotic therapies. The generally rapid course of the disease prevents any intervention. Despite a continually developing classification, clostridium that affect cattle can be classified based on their target tissue and pathogenic expression, as neurotoxic, histotoxic and enterotoxic. Scientific knowledge about different clostridial toxins, their aetiopathological mechanisms, risk factors and pathologies involved are generally limited due to the large number of bacteria strains and types involved. Alongside the more studied neurotoxic C. tetani and C. botulinum for their implications in human medicine, there are lots less known pathogenic strains capable of causing extremely severe clinical patterns in veterinary medicine. In particular regarding enterotoxic clostridia, the incidence of necro-haemorrhagic enteritis and enterotoxaemia is probably wrongly estimated because complete post-mortem investigation is rarely performed and several other reasons can lead to sudden death. The aim of this review is to describe the main clostridial diseases that can affect cattle and some of the possible prevention strategies as controlling major known risk factors and the use of vaccination.