We received a phone call on Sunday morning from a distraught Robyn..."you are not going to like this" were her words of preparation...which allowed just enough time for all kinds of dreadful scenarios to go through my mind. I have to say that the source of the upset hadn't even crossed my mind...Kitten...lovely little black Kitten...always running around playing...so friendly and so inquisitive...had died suddenly that morning. Poor Robyn, poor Biba, poor Kitten.
Kitten had gone from pronking around on Saturday night, to being okay at 9am Sunday morning when she came in at feed time, to being found near death 2 hours later. All of the signs (or lack of them) pointed to clostridial disease, and this has been confirmed with pulpy kidney present on postmortem.
Clostridial disease is caused by bacteria that occurs widely in soil. Death is usually sudden and animals are usually found dead without any visable signs. Our vet said it was actually unusual to find them alive at all (as Robyn had) but Kitten had gone on to die very quickly.
There are vaccinations against Clostridial disease. We give Lambivac at 4 weeks of age and again at 8 weeks. This is a live vaccine, which means the first dose causes a reaction and thus when the vaccine is introduced again, antibodies are produced that protect the animal for 6-12 months (varies with product and animal species). Kitten was 6 weeks of age meaning that she had had the first vaccination but not the second, so was not protected.
I am keen to hear other breeders protocols for cria vaccination i.e how soon do you give your first and subsequent doses? Our vet agrees with our current practice of vaccinating the dams 6 week before birthing (although this is difficult to predict when gestation periods can go so far over expectations) and the cria at 4 and 8 weeks. He feels that we have just been incredibly unlucky, and will hopefully never see it again. But any other advice welcome.