Talk to the Vet – How to identify, manage Pulpy kidney disease

Talk to the Vet – How to identify, manage Pulpy kidney disease

Welcome to another exciting and informative edition of your favourite weekly column Talk to the Vet, where we discuss, share and dissect all issues related to animal healthcare. 

It is again that time of the year, and seasons have changed and cases of pulpy kidney and pneumonia in small stock (sheep and goats) are expected to be more prevalent. We will fully cover Pneumonia in next week’s edition, but today’s article will look into the effects, symptoms and characteristics of Pulpy kidney disease, which is also known as Enterotoxiamia, Okatikitira or Bloednier.

Pulpy kidney disease is caused by a bacteria species known as Clostridium perfringens, which naturally occurs in the animals’ gut and the environment (soil), which is the source of organisms that infect newborns.  

Any sudden change in feed, excessive amount of milk, environment, deworming, and stress-induced situation, e.g. weaning, causes a rapid multiplication and production of the bacteria in the animals’

The most typical signs seen are acute death, laboured breathing, salivation, diarrhoea, head problems, weakness, opisthotonos, circling, incoordination and seizure. Another important clinical sign observed by farmers is the tail wiggling. 

It should, however, be noted that the majority of the above clinical symptoms can also be seen in other clostridial diseases such as botulism or tetanus. On postmortem, there is rapid autolysis of the kidneys hence the name pulpy kidney.

Infection in young kids (goat babies) and lambs usually results in death before any clinical signs are seen, but some newborn lambs stop suckling, become listless and remain recumbent. Fetid, blood-tinged diarrhoea is common, and death usually occurs within a few days.

In calves, there is acute diarrhoea, dysentery, abdominal pain, seizures and opisthotonos. Death may occur in a few hours

I advise that if you suspect cases or symptoms of Pulpy kidney amongst your stock, immediately move the rest of your animals back to a less lush area, slowly introduce new feed to the animals, and vaccinate the rest of the herd with LA tetracyclines until the vaccine takes effect. Prevention is normally and effectively done by vaccination. Multiple vaccines are available on the market like Pulpyvax, Multivax P, One Shot ultra-7, and Glanvac 3 amongst others. 

Vaccinate before parasitic treatment as stated on most dose bottles. I recommend using Pulpyvax with every seasonal change, movement to a new area, on every new animal bought in, and a week before your planned deworming programme.  

*For enquiries or suggestions on any topic that you would want covered, please reach out at or WhatsApp me at +264 81 723 4553.