September 19, 2016

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey, folks, thanks for joining me today on DocTalk. Our guest is going to be Dr. A.J. Tarpoff. He’s the Beef Extension Veterinarian here in Kansas, and we’re going to talk about something that can affect everybody’s herd; that’s tetanus. Stay tuned after these messages and I hope that you enjoy our show.

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(Dr. Dan) Dr. Tarpoff, welcome to the show. (Dr. AJ Tarpoff) Thanks for having me. (Dr. Dan) Folks, Dr. AJ Tarpoff. He is the Beef Extension Veterinary Specialist here at Kansas State University. Covers all things beef cattle that has to do medicine, preventative medicine, cow/calf, stock, or feedlot. Pleasure to have you back at Kansas State. (Dr. AJ) It’s a pleasure to be back. (Dr. Dan) Dr. Tarpoff has some practice experience and he has a lot of real world experience of things that a lot of times we don’t maybe get around the university system but we’re very fortunate to have you at Kansas State and AJ, today we’re going to talk about tetanus. It’s something that, while we’re all going to get vaccinated ourselves for, we don’t think about it a lot of times in our beef cattle. (Dr. AJ) Well, tetanus, it can happen in beef cattle. It can happen, really, in all species and depending on how we manage it and control the risk of it, is if we’ll ever actually see the disease or not. (Dr. Dan) Got you. When we start to think about, what is tetanus? Let’s just start out with what causes it? (Dr. AJ) What causes it it’s a bacteria. This bacteria is a little bit different than most of the diseases we deal with because it lives in the soil. It really lives in all soil all around the world. What’s special about it is that it actually, the bacteria itself forms a spore to protect itself and it can live for a long, long time in the soil itself. (Dr. Dan) This is the same, this is Clostridium. (Dr. AJ) This is Clostridium. (Dr. Dan) This is the Clostridium species. It’s very similar to blackleg and other forms of Clostridium that are going to be living in the soil and producing this spores. Let’s say the calf can get it from grazing, they can get it from the environment. Do they ingest it or how? (Dr. AJ) They can ingest it but it doesn’t cause them the illness. It flows through the digestive tract, no big deal. What happens is we need an active infection or some type of wound. If we have compromised skin, the skin is a great shield to protect the body from all the outside elements. When we have compromise in that skin that’s when we end up having issues and the spore comes in and it forms an oxygen free environment and then that’s where the bacteria can thrive and cause an issue. (Dr. Dan) Got you. When we’re talking about tetanus, almost everybody’s likely got it in the soil in there, whether the grow yard or their pastures or whatever. But, once you create the type of wound that’ll set this up, that’s when we have an issue? (Dr. AJ) Absolutely. A lot of different things can cause it. Some of our production practices like castration, dehorning, after calving if we have metritis issues with the cow, we can run into some of these issues. We always have something leading to clinical science in tetanus. We have an active wound that is compromised and then that’s when the spore gets in and causes an issue. (Dr. Dan) When you say castration, obviously banding is the type of castration that is the one we think about the most. (Dr. AJ) Typically in the banding castration, it is more prevalent than actually cutting castration. We also see it with different types of banding around a horn or on a tail – any of those other issues when we have compromised tissue that’s starting to die and that’s where we run into the issue. (Dr. Dan) Perfect. Let’s take a break. Let’s go to commercial. When we come back we’re going to talk more with Dr. AJ Tarpoff, the Kansas State Beef Cattle Extension Veterinarian. Thanks for watching DocTalk. More right after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. AJ Tarpoff. We’re at Kansas State University where Dr. Tarpoff serves as the Beef Extension veterinary Specialist for the entire state of Kansas. We’re very lucky to have him on board here at Kansas State University to work. We’ve worked together before, we’ve worked together when you were in practice and it’s great to have you here to work together again, AJ. Let’s talk about tetanus. When I walk out what I am going to see if I have a calf that’s succumbing to tetanus? (Dr. AJ) Okay. Well, with tetanus there’s varying degrees and it progresses from one to the other. One early sign of tetanus is really just a generalized stiffness of the animal. They’re not moving quite right. They’re really stiff all over and as that progresses the bacteria itself, once we have the infection, releases a neurotoxin and it can ascend up the body where they get very rigid and they like to call it a sawhorse stance. When they are sawhorse, their legs are fully extended, they’re very reluctant to move, and it’s quite something to see. (Dr. Dan) Yes and then when they fall over they’ll maintain that stance and there’s a reason why we call it locked jaw instead of tetanus. (Dr. AJ) The body actually starts to develop these horrible spasms and what one of the early signs is the muscles in the jaw. They won’t be able to eat; they won’t be able to open their jaw. The spasms in the muscles just contract that jaw extremely hard. (Dr. Dan) They can be stimulated by noise too. (Dr. AJ) Noise and light. If something surprises them, you walk past an animal, they almost have a panic attack. They get extremely rigid. If you look at their eyes, they get actually the third eye lid of the eye comes over and they may fall over just from the excitement. (Dr. Dan) We have some video here folks that you can see as they are clapping or as they’re making that noise, that third eyelid here and you can see their body move as they do this. But it’s not something we like to see but you can actually help differentiate whether or not it’s tetanus or some other neural disease by that. (Dr. AJ) By the spasms, by the third eye lid coming over and the excitability, those are very indicative of tetanus. (Dr. Dan) There’s different ways we can find them, maybe too late when we find those but you start looking and back tracking through the ones that have the less severe signs? (Dr. AJ) Absolutely. We’ll have much better treatment success in the early stages of the disease. That’s always key. If they’re already down, they’re flat out, they’re in a super rigid stance on the ground, it is almost a little bit too late for those animals. (Dr. Dan) Yes, those are the ones that are going to have a very grave prognosis but if caught earlier we can treat the others. Lets move forward and take a break and come back after the break and we’ll talk about treatment. (Dr. AJ) Sounds great. (Dr. Dan) Thanks for being here. Folks thanks for watching DocTalk, more with Dr. A.J. Tarpoff after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey folks. Welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. A.J. Tarpoff. We’re at Kansas State University where Dr. Tarpoff is the State Beef Extension Veterinarian and is covering more than our state. Works nationally with The Academy of Veterinary Consultants, American Association of Bovine Practitioners and many producers in the United States and Canada. Dr. Tarpoff, pleasure to have you here. We’re talking about tetanus and we’ve gone through that it’s a Clostridium species that we can set up with the different types of skin wounds. Basically it likes an un-aerobic environment, an environment that there’s no oxygen. Then when we find these animals they’re in rigor or the locked jaw, they’re super excitable. We know we have tetanus on our premise, we know we have an issue with tetanus here in these calves. Can we treat them? (Dr. AJ) We do have some treatment. It’s not always 100% successful but we can treat these animals. What’s available for treatment of tetanus, we actually have an antitoxin. I brought up earlier that there’s actually a neurotoxin that tetanus releases, we actually have an antitoxin to help combat that. Now since it is a bacterial disease we can actually use antibiotics to treat this illness as well. During treatment, usually it’s penicillin, antitoxin, but we also have to think about what initiated it. Where’s that deep penetrating wound? Is it a banding issue? We treat the wound, we treat systematically with antibiotics and we use an antitoxin. (Dr. Dan) Got you. Obviously it’s a bacteria, you can kill the bacteria with antibiotic and then the antitoxin is something that’s going go in and clean up the toxins given off by the spores. (Dr. AJ) Correct. (Dr. Dan) Got you. We’re going to kill the bacteria with the antibiotic, we’re going to clean up the toxins with the antitoxin and then we’re going to clean up the source of the infection by wound treatment. (Dr. AJ) The initial wound. (Dr. Dan) You’re debridement and things to that nature. These animals, after we treat them, are there other things that we want to do to help provide recovery for these types of animals? (Dr. AJ) We do need to provide extra care for these animals. Some things that are recommended, the stimulus, they still get greatly excited. Some of these animals you actually give, some of that is painful. Sometimes analgesics, something to keep, kind of decrease the amount of stress on that animal. We put them in a dark environment to keep the sunlight away from them and these animals are prone to go down. We need to be careful with this environment they’re in, that there’s nothing that can hurt themselves in the environment that they are in. Think about bedding, some place they’re extremely comfortable. We will have better treatment success if we take these extra steps. (Dr. Dan) Got you so antibiotics, antitoxin, going to treat the wound, get them in a dark place, bed them and then if they go down we’re going to treat them just as any other compromised animal. (Dr. AJ) Absolutely and if they’ve been down for extended periods of time, we need to think about water. This animal needs water, it needs feed and we may have to supplement some of those things for this animal. (Dr. Dan) Perfect. When we come back, we’re talking about preventing tetanus in your herd. Thanks for watching DocTalk. We’ll be right back.

(Dr. Dan) Folks, thanks for watching us today on DocTalk. I’m here with Dr. A. J. Tarpoff. He’s our State Beef Extension Veterinary Specialist here at Kansas State University and we’ve talked about everything. Now it’s time to prevent tetanus and we have good vaccines. (Dr. AJ) We have excellent vaccines for tetanus and the biggest thing, tetanus, if we can prevent it, it’s a cheap vaccine, it’s very effective, that’s a step that we need to take. (Dr. Dan) Okay so now we get caught up in this, antitoxin versus toxoid and so what’s the difference between an antitoxin and a toxoid? (Dr. AJ) The toxoid is little — you actually build immunity against that particular pathogen. Antitoxin is really effective after the infection happens and we need to bind out that toxoid. To prevent the infection, we actually want the toxoid, not the antitoxin. This is something that we’re building immunity into the future. Antitoxin will not build immunity in the future.
(Dr. Dan) One way that I describe it is, we give the toxoid to the animal and it will produce its own antitoxin in the blood. (Dr. AJ) Correct. (Dr. Dan) The antitoxin, if you’re going to give that, you buy it, it’s expensive, and you’re going to give that because the animal doesn’t have time- (Dr. AJ) To make it’s own. (Dr. Dan) -to make its own. We’re going to give it to the animal so we usually use the vaccine, we give a little bit of the toxoid, which is an injection of the toxin, it produces its own antitoxin. (Dr. AJ) Yes, that’s exactly the way we do it and then it comes down to timing. You know, when do we actually vaccinate these animals? I like to get people to vaccinate for tetanus the first time we handle these calves, whether that be branding, castration, dehorning, if we’re going to be doing those practices, and we already have the animal caught, we need to get a tetanus toxoid into that animal. (Dr. Dan) Yes and I always wondered, sometimes people only use the tetanus toxoid when they band cattle, but it won’t hurt them to give it to them. (Dr. AJ) Absolutely no. (Dr. Dan) I guess I wonder why people don’t use the tetanus toxoid, or the eight-way Clostridium, the seven-way blackleg plus tetanus routinely. (Dr. AJ) I like to routinely use it in the cowherd. I do like to use them on every animal. I think every animal needs at least one tetanus toxoid at least once in its life. I like to boost those animals annually. (Dr. Dan) Horses are extremely sensitive to tetanus. They get tetanus by just looking at a piece of wire on the fence so we have tetanus almost every time we handle horses as well. (Dr. AJ) Right. (Dr. Dan) Cattle aren’t nearly as sensitive, but it can be a big problem. (Dr. AJ) Now horses and sheep are much more susceptible to tetanus. The cattle still can definitely get tetanus. (Dr. Dan) Perfect. Well, we’re going to wind down the show but thanks for being on the show. If you don’t mind, you can look up Dr. Tarpoff on the Internet. If you need a speaker for a meeting on something that you heard, give him a call. He’s a great veterinarian and a great resource here in the state of Kansas and abroad. Thanks for being here and thanks for being at K-State. (Dr. AJ) Thank you very much, Dr. Dan. (Dr. Dan) Thank you for watching DocTalk. It’s been my pleasure to be around here today. If you have a question, want to know more about the show, you can find us at Remember to always work with your local veterinarian. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson thanks for joining us today on DocTalk and I’ll see you down the road.

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