Black Quarter (Quarter Ill) in Dairy Cattle – Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

‘Black quarter (B.Q)’ is a fatal bacterial disease of cattle and buffaloes caused by anaerobic bacteria Clostridium chauvoei. The disease affects healthy young animals between 6-24 months age. It affects mostly healthy and robust animals affecting the thigh muscles producing gaseous edema with typical crepitating sounds if pressed. The skin over the region dies and becomes like leather. In early stages within 6-12 hours the disease is amenable for treatment and penicillin is the drug of choice in high doses. In advanced cases after the muscular involvement treatment is of no use. Mortality rate is very high as the disease runs per acute form. Buffaloes suffer less than the cattle. Sheep and goats are also affected with this disease. The bacteria in the form of spores can survive for long period years in the soil and can infect healthy animals if ingested. Healthy animals can be vaccinated and immunized. Vaccination has to be repeated every year before the onset of rainy season.

Mode of infection:
The mode of infection is by ingestion of the spores along with the contaminated food. After entry into the body the organism stay without producing any symptoms and wait for a congenial time. Muscular injury or any bruise triggers the spores to develop and multiply. What exactly responsible is not known. Once the organism starts multiplying, releases toxins to cause severe damage and death of the muscle tissue. Consequent to the death of the muscle tissue gas is released creating a characteristic crepitating sound if pressed. Finally the animal dies of severe toxemia.

The disease mostly run as per acute way and the affected animal does not reveal any symptoms. Sudden death is only seen in the herd.

In less severe cases affected animal starts suddenly limping with lameness and swelling of the affected quarter.

High fever of more than 1060 C with anorexia and suspended rumination
As the disease progresses the skin on the affected region die and pain on touch is not seen leading to the death of the animal in about 12-36 hours.

In early stages before the involvement of the muscle tissue Penicillin can be given in high doses to stop multiplication of the bacteria and progress of the disease. If the disease is advanced there is no use of treatment.

Prevention of the disease:
Vaccinating the animals is the only best way of protecting the animals against the disease. The calves can be protected for the first time at the age of 8- 12 weeks age along with a booster dosage after 4 weeks. From then onwards vaccination can be done every year before the onset of rains.