Occurs when potent toxins are produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

• Most cases occur in the pastoral areas in association with phosphorus deficiency as stock chew old bones trying to get phosphorus.


• Early signs are uncoordination, loss of appetite, excessive salivation, mild excitability and nervous twitching and jaw champing.

• As the disease progresses, sheep become dull, respiration becomes laboured and flaccid paralysis of limbs sets in.

• Affected sheep will go down and die quietly, generally within 2-3 days of initial signs.


• Based on flock history and clinical signs.


• About 50% of sheep recover without treatment.

• Food and water should be provided while the toxin runs its course.

• All ‘at risk’ sheep should be vaccinated to prevent further cases.


• Two doses of botulism vaccine one year apart provides life long prevention.

• Vaccination is only recommended on properties where phosphorus deficiency or botulism are known to be a problem.

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