CHRONIC PULPY KIDNEY – Focal symmetrical encephalomalacia

In December a client lost 10 out of 300 six month old lambs he had purchased a few months earlier. The farmer had been told the lambs were fully vaccinated, so no vaccination was done. The lambs were growing perfectly until just before Christmas when 2 lambs became staggery, were unable to rise and died in a few days. Luckily the farmer drenched and vaccinated the lambs with 5 in 1. When one more lamb died, we were called and did a post mortem. Lab testing diagnosed a condition called CHRONIC PULPY KIDNEY or Focal symmetrical encephalomalacia (FSE).

In total 10 lambs died before the vaccination took effect.

FSE is a form of enterotoxaemia caused by Cl perfringens type D in animals with partial immunity or who suffer only partial intoxication. The signs are referrable to chronic neurological damage. The disease is usually sporadic and affects animals of any age although young animals are more likely to be affected.

Clinical signs

Clinical signs are similar to those of a condition called PEM or polio. They include blindness, aimless wandering, circling and head-pressing. The sheep become laterally recumbent, mostly quietly but with intermittent paddling and head flexion. The course of the disease varies between 3 and 10 days, before death intervenes.


The brain develops soft swellings which can be seen grossly but are fully identified under the microscope. Treatment and prevention There is no effective treatment. Prevention is the same as for pulpy kidney.

For a A full description of clostridial diseases of sheep and cattle read the article Clostridial Diseases of Sheep and Cattle.