Clostridium tetani produces toxins that affect the central nervous system causing hypersensitivity, stiffness in legs and muscles, and opisthotonos.

Alternative names: Clostridium tetani


It is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani, which produces toxins that affect the central nervous system. The organism, capable of forming spores lives in the large intestine. It is present in feces of many mammals and in some soils. This disease can be a problem for pigs living outdoors. The incubation period is 1 to 10 weeks with shorter incubation periods resulting in more severe disease. In nursing piglets of less than 2 weeks old the disease is uncommon.


All ages

  • Hypersensitivity.
  • Stiffness of legs and muscles.
  • Stiff tail.
  • Muscle spasms in ears and face.
  • High mortality.
  • Opisthotonos.


Causes / Contributing Factors

  • Spores are found in soil.
  • The bacteria must enter through a dirty wound or cut.
  • In lactating piglets the most common source is castration - not hygienic methods.


  • It is based on clinical signs.


  • There is no effective treatment once clinical signs are present.
  • Vaccination of the sow is very effective.
  • Using antitoxins during  castration.
  • Using prophylactic antibiotics, especially penicillin when pigs with a wound (e.g. after castration) will be exposed to soil.