Why you should be vaccinating your goats for CD&T.
I wanted to write this blog post for all of my followers that have goats and have questions about what vaccines they should be giving their goats and when and why for that matter. So I am going to try and cover the diseases that the CD&T vaccine covers, what CD&T are, how they affect your animals, how to give the vaccine, when to give and any other things I can think of that are relative to the vaccine.
To start, the CD&T vaccine is for Clostridial diseases. The CD part stands for Clostridium perfringens type C and type D. The T stands for Tetanus, which is also a clostridial disease, Clostridium tetani. Many people have heard of tetanus and have even had tetanus shots. You have probably heard of other clostridial diseases too, but just didn’t know that’s what they were. Some other clostridial diseases you may know about are botulism and gas gangrene.
Clostridia are an anaerobic bacterium, which means they don’t need oxygen to survive. They are commonly found in the soil and in the GI tract of most animals. They are spore forming, so they are more resistant to destruction than some other bacteria. Not all clostridia are disease causing, the pathogenic strains are usually acquired by ingestion or through wound contamination.
Clostridium perfringens is an enterotoxemia, a toxemia resulting from absorption of toxins produced by organisms within the digestive system. Basically, there are these bacteria in the gut of the animal, and as long as their numbers are kept in check there is no problem, but if their numbers get out of hand they produce enough toxin to cause harm to the animal. It is very similar to someone getting a yeast infection. We all have some yeast within or on our bodies, it’s not until they begin multiplying rapidly that they cause a problem. This is why this disease is sometimes caused overeating disease, because it usually occurs when an animal is on too much grain and not enough forage, allowing the bacteria to multiply very rapidly, causing a release of excessive toxins into the body. There are 5 types of C. perfringens, A, B, C, D & E, but C & D are the ones that most commonly affect goats.
Affected animals can develop enteritis, dysentery, toxemia and mortality is a common result. In layman’s terms, inflammation of the intestines with severe diarrhea. Animals will sometimes show neurological symptoms, including seizures. There are high mortality rates in young or already weak animals. I personally, have never seen an animal recover that was brought in to the clinic and diagnosed with enterotoxemia. This is one of the main reasons I will be vaccinating my girls as recommended by my veterinarian.
The second half of the vaccine covers tetanus, which is also a member of the clostridial family as I briefly explained earlier. Tetanus works differently than C. perfringens in that it is not already in the body waiting to grow rapidly in the digestive tract. Although, it too is found in the digestive tract and soil, it’s primary way of causing disease is by being introduced into a deep wound. And for it to grow the wound almost always has to be contaminated with soil or other foreign material. Sometimes it is hard to even find the point of entry, because the wound may already be healed or may be minor and not suspect. Another difference between tetanus and clostridia is that tetanus is a neurotoxin, meaning it attacks neurons, the cells of the nervous system. Tetanus will remain in the area of infection and multiply there releasing their toxin. Animals with tetanus will have involuntary muscle contractions of the voluntary muscles, basically they will have moments where all of the muscles will contract tightly and then release, over and over again. In severe causes the spasms can be so violent that the animal will actually break their own bones. The spasms will affect the rest of the body systems and animals may suffer from respiratory or cardiac failure.
There are anti-toxins available for both C. perfringens and C. tetani, but treatment does not always result in recovery.
Ok, so now that you have a little background info on the diseases you will be vaccinating against let’s talk a little about the vaccine itself. When you go to buy your vaccine most places that carry it will carry both the vaccine and the antidote to the disease, so make sure you are buying the right thing. The CD& T vaccine is a toxoid vaccine. What is done is the toxin that is secreted is taken and made harmless to the animal by inactivating it, and then when you give the vaccine the animal’s immune system is able to attack and therefore make antibodies against that toxin without risk of being harmed. So when you buy it, you’re looking for something along these lines “Clostridium perfringens Types C & D- Tetanus Toxoid.” You don’t need the “Antitoxin”, that is for the treatment of CD&T.
Most bottles are multi-dose bottles, so you will be able to vaccinate several goats out of a single vial. You will need to read the bottle to know how much to give, but I think most call for 2mls to be given. When you go to dose your goats its best to put a needle in the top of the vial and draw the vaccine out and into the syringe and then putting a needle on that syringe instead of sticking a needle into the vial over and over again. Also, make sure to use a brand new needle and syringe for each animal, no re-using syringes and needles. If you have a long way to drive from getting your vaccine take a small cooler or box with an ice pack to keep your vaccine from getting over-heated. If you do not maintain your vaccine at the proper temperatures it may not work when you give it to your goats. Also, don’t set it out in the sunlight on the ride home either! It should be kept cool and in a dark place to keep it from going bad. It wouldn’t hurt your goats but it just wouldn’t work.
Ok, so now you have your vaccine, when do you give it?
Most veterinarians in our area (Georgia) recommend at least one booster yearly, sometimes twice a year depending on the occurrence of cases in your particular area. It’s best to check with your veterinarian to see what he or she recommends in your area and for your particular herd. You should vaccinate any pregnant does during their fourth month of pregnancy so they will pass on a high number of antibodies to the kids when they drink their first milk, the colostrum. Then you vaccinate your kids at three months of age and then again one month later. After that they will go on a once yearly schedule, unless otherwise recommended. If you are going to be doing any disbudding or castrations during the year not close to when you give your CD&T you may find it beneficial to give a tetanus shot prior, you can buy plain tetanus vaccine right next to your CD&T vaccine. If you acquire a goat and don’t have any record of its vaccine history you can give a CD&T vaccine and then booster it again in a month and the goat should be protected. If you have a kid born to a doe that your unsure of her vaccination history you can vaccinate the kid at 7-21 days and then booster in a month. If the mother is receiving her very first CD&T vaccine during her pregnancy the chances are it will be ineffective, she should be vaccinated again one month later and her kid should be vaccinated as if she had never received a vaccine, at 7-21 days after birth and then again in one month.
You need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to administer the vaccine.
Each manufacturer may have a different guideline so be sure to read the label each time you go to vaccinate your animals. Most CD&T vaccines are 2mls given IM, but always check the bottle! You may want to get some epinephrine from your veterinarian before you go to vaccinate your animals, in case one of them has a severe allergic reaction. Your veterinarian will help you determine how much would need to be given based on the size of your animal and the concentration of the drug they have.
I will try to do a post showing proper technique for giving your goat a shot.
I hope this has been helpful and informative, if yall have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment!
Have a great day, enjoy your feathered friends and all your furry creatures!