Information copied here with permission of Sue Reith Thanks once again Sue.
Spring is a dangerous time of the year for enterotoxemia because so many animals are let out on the new, lush Spring grass and bloat is common under such circumstances. The problem is, bloat is often just the beginning of the problem. Enterotoxemia is a common secondary invader that follows on its heels. You need to be prepared now to give any goat that does become bloated from eating the Spring grass a dose of antitoxin preventatively when this happens, as it's far easier to prevent this disease than to treat it!
Clostridial (enterotoxemia) organisms are always present in the goat's gut, right along with everything else. They don't usually cause trouble because they keep passing on out of the system in the feces. The gut activity needs to be stopped or slowed down by something else for a long enough time to give those little bugs a chance to build up sufficient numbers to cause Enterotoxemia. Some of the gut-stoppers that are common precursors to Entero are grass bloat, too much carbohydrate, as in heavy feedings of milk replacers or milk/replacer + grain (slow to digest), Floppy Kid Syndrome, severe coccidiosis, etc...
When someone has an animal with bloat or grain overload or etc I suggest, as a part of the corrective measures, that he/she administer a hefty dose of Enterotoxemia Antitoxin ASAP! Owners often resist (as in ignore) that advice because they don't keep Entero Antitoxin on hand and they know (or the vet has said) it's bloat, etc., not Entero... (!)
In the beginning that's no doubt true. And if the animal is current on all its CD/T vaccinations and over 4 months of age that still may be true. But any older animal that hasn't had yearly boosters is at risk, as is a yearling that didn't receive at least 2 vaccinations no earlier than 2 months of age AND a booster at 6 months of age, thus has NO antibodies left at 1 year of age!
The key is that it takes just a few days (maybe 5 or so at the most) for whatever stopped or slowed down the gut initially (like FKS, grain overload, too much milk replacer, grass bloat, severe coccidiosis, or whatever) to turn into full-blown enterotoxemia. You see, when the naturally occurring clostridial organisms stop passing routinely out of that now stopped or slowed rumen it takes that long for them to multiply within the rumen until they are in sufficient number to create Enterotoxemia in the gut.
Enterotoxemia is a disease caused by the overproduction of toxins by the Clostridium prefringens organisms that are found naturally in the goat's rumen. As they multiply, which they'll will do if the rumen is slowed or shut down for any reason, the toxins quickly reach the level where they start to destroy the intestinal walls, eventually passing through them into the peritoneal cavity where they systematically begin shutting the organs down, killing the host. It's a very painful way to die.
I'm finding that more and more owners have actually avoided enterotoxemia by giving the Antitoxin preventatively when the goat's gut is compromised in this manner. By comparison, it's so sad to learn of goats that have died unnecessarily but could have been saved, only because people (INCLUDING many vets!) didn't realize the danger inherent in a stopped up gut and prepare ahead to have Antitoxin on hand for such emergencies.
Remember that the CD Antitoxin has only one function, to destroy on contact any entero toxins detected in the gut. So if the animal's own immune system has sufficient antibodies present, thus there are NO entero toxins developing in the stopped-up gut, it has no work to do and will just dissipate from the goat's system.
FYI: Banamine kills pain and cuts inflammation caused by the toxins as they do their damage to the gut walls (Whatever else you do, do not substitute dexamethasone for Banamine, as it will shut down the immune system while reducing the inflammation!); BoSe stimulates the body's own immune system so it can help itself get better while you help it from outside; Penicillin kills off Clostridial bacteria, but can't save the goat's life without the help of the antitoxin; electrolytes maintain the body's chemical balance so it won't die of dehydration while you're trying to cure it; baking soda reverses acidosis created by the toxins as they destroy intestinal walls; and Pepto bismol coats them, protecting them from further damage by toxins.
(While I urge you to share this information with other individual goat owners, please do not reproduce the article for publication without my specific permission. Thank you. Sue Reith.)
Bainbridge Island WA