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Cattle enterotoxaemia and Clostridium perfringens: description, diagnosis and prophylaxis
  1. M. Lebrun, DVM, MSc1,
  2. J. G. Mainil, DVM, MSc, PhD2 and
  3. A. Linden, DVM, MSc, PhD2
  1. 1 Association de Santé et d'Identification Animale, Allée des Artisans 2, 5590 Ciney, Belgium
  2. 2 Bacteriology Section, Department of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, B43A Boulevard de Colonster 20, 4000 Liège, Belgium
  1. E-mail for correspondence: maude.lebrun{at}


Cattle enterotoxaemia is one of numerous pathologies caused by Clostridium perfringens. These anaerobic Gram-positive bacteria are naturally present in the intestinal flora of mammals, but their uncontrolled multiplication under certain conditions results in the overproduction of toxins in the intestinal tract. Major clinical signs are induced by the systemic spread of these toxins in the blood and tissues. Enterotoxaemia may be acute or peracute, and sudden death is often reported in rapidly growing, apparently healthy cattle. Enterotoxaemia can be prevented only with better understanding of its risk factors and pathogenesis. This paper provides an up-to-date overview of knowledge concerning the aetiology of the syndrome, its epidemiological context, pathogenesis, clinical signs and lesions, the diagnostic procedures and prophylactic tools, with specific attention to field aspects that are directly relevant to practitioners and clinical researchers.

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