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Black Leg Disease

This disease is also called Chlostridial myonecrosis, black quarter and quarter ill. It is an important disease of cattle and sheep. It affects skeletal muscles. This condition starts when tissue damage occurs. It is acute bacterial, emphysematous, myonecrotic, highly fatal disease. Wide range of ruminants is susceptible to this condition but cattle and sheep are more susceptible at age of 6 months – 2 years. This disease is more in summer and fall.

It is widely distributed all over the world occurring in all the countries mostly in hilly areas and sandy regions. This is one of the most important causes of cattle mortality in sandy and hilly regions. According to epidemiological survey it is an economically important disease of livestock. When pasture or grazing grounds once become affected, the disease will reappear regularly in susceptible animals year after year.

This disease is caused by Cl. Chouvei which is G +ve, spore forming, anaerobic bacillus. The spores of this organism are highly resistant to environment influences and disinfection. 

First entry is through alimentary mucosa after ingestion of contaminated feed or eruption of teeth. Contamination of soil and pasture occurs from infected feacal material or decomposition of carcasses of animals.


Clinical Signs:

  • High fever

  • Gaseous swelling under skin mainly on hind quarter and shoulder.

  • There is stiffness or limping of one leg.

  • Gaseous swelling may develop in other parts of the body as well like neck, chest and flanks.

  • At the beginning swellings are hot, painful and limited later they become larger, cold and painless.

  • Skin over the swellings becomes dry, dark in colour and on palpation crepitation is felt.

  • Other symptoms include less appetite, cessation of rumination, rapid breathing, depression and death of animal within 24-48 hours. Affected animal may die without showing signs.

Diagnosis is on the basis of age, season, and swelling on specific area. Make smear, gram staining and observe clostridium.

Treatment must be in time within 24-48 hours. For specific treatment, provide oxytetracyclin (without xylocain or lignocain) 10 mg/kg body weight intravenously for several days. For supportive treatment give multivitamins.

Vaccine prepared by Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) is available.

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