Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Big Head


Other Names

  • Clostridia
  • Clostridial Diseases
  • Clostridium novyi Type A
  • Swelled Head



Big head is an inflammatory swelling of the head of sheep, usually young rams, caused by Clostridium novyi type A. Continual butting between young rams bruises the subcutaneous tissues of the poll and sets up suitable anaerobic conditions for entry and multiplication of pathogenic clostridia.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

The head, face and neck become swollen with oedema. Differential diagnoses include photosensitisation, bluetongue and possibly actinobacillosis.

Specimens for laboratory confirmation are smears or swabs of exudate for bacteriology collected from live or freshly dead animals. In dead animals, also aseptically collect sections of affected tissue to submit chilled for bacteriology and in buffered formalin for histology.


Procaine penicillin.