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  • Tetanus is caused by poisons produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This organism is very common in soil and in the manure of all animals and man.

Symptoms:Tetanus symptoms

  • Symptoms of tetanus usually appear 7 to 14 days after the organism enters the body by way of a wound and include general stiffness or hardness of localized muscle groups, such as those in the head or neck. The stiffness and soreness progress to other parts of the body, and after 24 to 48 hours, the complete body is stiff or hard. If the animal can stand, the legs are straddled out, the neck and head are extended, and the tail is erect. The anima; will go into violent stiff spasms of the muscles as a reaction to any quick movement, blow to the body, or sudden loud noise. The nostrils will flare, eyes open wide, and the third eyelid or membrane from the middle of the eye will drop about halfway across the eye. Body temperature will rise drastically when the muscle spasm start.


  • The disease is spread when bacteria enter living tissue, which may occur in a puncture wound or any type wound that may close up and seal off. The bacteria grow and produce the toxin which causes the symptoms.

Treatment:Tetanus (Lockjaw)

  • Treatment is usually unsuccessful; over 80% of the infected goats will die. Large doses of penicillin injected into the muscles, plus sedatives or tranquilizers and 100,000 to 200,000 IU of tetanus antitoxin are required for treatment. Treatment usually is not practical for goats.


  • Fortunately, a permanent form of prevention is rather simple. Two doses of tetanus toxoid can be given 30 days apart, with a yearly booster shot. This will adequately protect adults for at least 1 year. If a severe wound occurs, give a booster at that time. Tetanus antitoxin (1500IU) can be given to protect animals when a wound occurs but this only protects for about 30 days. Very young kids, up to 3 weeks of age, can be protected with as little as 150 to 300 IU of antitoxin each. This procedure should be followed when disbudding or castration is done.



  • Thedford, Thomas R. Goat Health Handbook: A Field Guide for Producers with Limited Veterinary Services. Morrilton, AR: Winrock International, 1983. Print.
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