Common Diseases

Irvine Mesa Charros 4-H Club
Irvine, California

Common Diseases

Coccidia are tiny intestinal parasites, actually protozoans, that can cause foamy, bloody diarrhea or a dull, dry coat. Sometimes a goat with coccidiosis (coccidia infestation) has an on-again-off-again soft stool or no obvious symptoms at all. You might not suspect a problem until you notice that your kids are not growing as well as they should. Young kids up to four months of age are at highest risk and should be treated at least once with the medication Albon. Our veterinarian recommends that they receive Albon for one week beginning at about three or four weeks of age and again if they are very stressed, such as when separated from their mother. If in doubt, take a stool sample to a veterinarian who regularly treats goats.

Ketosis (also known as pregnancy toxemia) may occur in pregnant does late in their pregnancy. The doe may be depressed, weak, uninterested in food, and have poor muscle control and balance. If untreated, death follows within a few days. Early in the disease, many does will show a positive test for ketone bodies in the urine. Ketosis may occur when the doe is carrying two or more kids, or when the doe is very fat. This disease is caused by the sudden extra demand for energy by the fast-growing kids in the pregnant goat and the inability of the goat to eat enough of her normal diet to provide this energy (due to the kids taking up room in the body). The doe will rapidly metabolize fat from her body stores producing ketones (a toxic by-product) and the symptoms of the disease. Treatment with propylene glycol at two to three ounces twice a day will help. If the doe lies down and cannot stand, treatment is usually not successful unless she delivers at that time. As a preventive measure, do not let the doe get fat early in pregnancy and in the last month of pregnancy provide 1-2 pounds of grain in addition to hay.

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Syndrome (CAE) is a viral disease. In young kids symptoms include a weakness in the rear legs, with no fever, or loss of appetite, However, the unused legs lose muscle strength and structure and the infected kids eventually die. In older goats, the same disease is seen as swollen joints, particularly the knees. The disease develops slowly, and after 2 or more years, the animal has difficulty using its legs properly. Infected goats have no fever, remain alert, and eat well. However, they do not recover from the arthritis. An inexpensive blood test can be used to diagnose CAE. The disease is spread from older infected goats to kids, perhaps by contact or through the milk from an infected doe to her kid. There are no corrective procedures or treatments. Isolating kids at birth and raising them on pasteurized goat milk is done to prevent the spread. It's a good idea to make sure a goat is CAE free before purchasing. However, the blood test only checks for antibodies, and it's possible that an animal is infected and not (yet) producing antibodies.

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland (udder or milk-giving gland) of animals, usually caused by bacteria. The symptoms of mastitis are heat, pain, and swelling of the udder. Usually you will notice some discoloration of the tissue and abnormal milk. The infected udder will change in color from slightly more pink to a bright red, or to a black and cold udder. The milk from an infected udder will vary in color, texture, and thickness. The California Mastitis Test (CMT) is a good test for subclinical mastitis, but is not 100% accurate. Laboratory culture or growth of the bacteria causing the mastitis is the best way to determine the exact diagnosis. The causes of mastitis are most commonly rough treatment and unclean milking practices. Wash the goat's udder before milking, and dip (or spray) the teats after milking with a teat dip. Wash your hands before milking each goat to prevent the spread. The treatment consists of an intramammary infusion of antibiotics, sometimes accompanied by additional antibiotics. Consulting a vet is important for this disease since there are many different bacteria that cause mastitis and different antibiotics are best for each. If untreated the infection spreads and the goat may die or lose the udder.

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