An important aspect of cashmere goat management is
disease control. A disease-free herd is more productive and
therefore more profitable. However, it cannot be stressed
enough that good management practices will practically
eliminate all disease processes that could disrupt a flock.
Disease etiologies are highly predictable and control
methods are well documented. The goat breeder should be able
to recognize and control diseases before they become a
factor in overall herd management.
In dry regions, many of the bacteria, oocysts and
protozoa will not survive in the dry conditions.
Unfortunately, the lack of medicines will offset this
advantage for diseases that will occur. Goats do not
normally have a high resistance to parasitic infection.
Generally, wormy goats will have a rough coat and pale
mucous membranes (such as the gums). Open pasture conditions
will minimize parasitic infection among the herd members,
but parasites can kill. Many of the diseases associated with
dairy goats are rare or almost nonexistent in cashmere type
goats under any conditions. Those that do affect fiber
producing goats and are of concern to managers are caused by
bacteria, viruses, protozoa or physiologic dysfunction.
Diseases discussed herein include brucellosis,
enterotoxemia, tetanus, Caseous lymphadenitis, pneumonia,
pinkeye, sore mouth, pregnancy toxemia, and internal and
BRUCELLOSIS (Bang's Disease or Undulant fever in
Humans) - Brucellosis in goats and sheep is a very serious
disease caused by Brucella melitensis. Bang's disease
causes spontaneous abortion in cattle and other bovines and
related species, and is caused by B. abortus. In
cattle, the disease is transmitted venereally and humans
become infected by contacting infected fluids (especially
from aborted fetuses) or by drinking infected, unpasteurized
milk products. Goat brucellosis is also transmissible to
humans through contact with unpasteurized milk and milk
products or by handling aborted fetuses. Between goats, the
disease is transmitted by normal infection routes via
contact of infected fluids with an open sore or cut. This
disease has been controlled in Western countries through a
vigorous vaccination program that was followed up by a
mandatory testing program. Cattle cannot be sold in some
states of the United States unless they have been tested.
Animals cannot be imported into the US unless they have been
tested. Animals that test positive are routinely
- Symptoms - Spontaneous abortion in cattle, sheep and
goats is often the first observed sign. Other symptoms
include stiff joints, fevers that come and go, and joint
swelling. The fluids accompanying the aborted fetus are
infective and cattle, sheep or goats that have aborted
should be isolated and culled immediately.
- Treatment - Modern antibiotics such as tetracycline
are effective treatments for sick animals and humans. If
left untreated, animals will usually recover in 10 day to
2 weeks, but will forever be a carrier of the disease and
a potential infective agent for other animals. Untreated
humans will recover 90% of the time but may experience
recurrences of the fever and joint ill.
- Prevention - All animals should be tested for the
disease and carriers culled from the herd. Goats do not
normally get bovine brucellosis although they can test
positive for that disease. Young cattle should be
vaccinated. Older cattle should not be vaccinated, as the
immune response to the vaccine will cause them to test
positive later. Infected goats or goats that have aborted
their fetuses should be immediately culled.
ENTEROTOXEMIA (Pulpy-kidney disease, Overeating
disease) - It is caused by Clostridium perfringes, a
bacterium that is normally present in the rumen of all
goats. It can affect kids as young as three days. Older
animals are affected when the normal bacterial flora of the
gut multiply in such profusion that the gas produced
interferes with normal digestion. Death is due to the toxin
produced by the bacteria.
- Symptoms - Sudden death is the most commonly observed
symptom, although an affected goat may be standing or
down, but it is usually bawling and in great pain.
Symptoms include depression, diarrhea, bloating,
staggering, "rocking horse" stance, pain, coma and
- Treatment - Goats suspected of having enterotoxemia
can be treated with 2-3 oz. of an antacid to soothe the
abdominal pain and reduce the acidosis. Severe cases
require the administration of CD antitoxin. The
intestinal bacteria can be killed with antibiotics.
- Prevention -Vaccinate pregnant does 3 weeks before
kidding with Clostroid C & D, with or without the
associated tetanus vaccine (the "T"). This will provide
immunity to not only the doe, but also the kid through
the colostrum. Kids should be revaccinated at a later
date. New animals not accustomed to the feeding program
may become ill and should be revaccinated to boost their
immunity. Any dramatic change in diet can precipitate the
disease so it is best to change feeding programs slowly,
over a period of 3-4 days. This allows the rumen flora to
make the needed population adjustments to cope with the
new feeds. It must be remembered that it is not the goat
that digests the feed, it is the rumen flora. Different
flora are needed to digest different feeds and only time
will allow the rumen flora populations to adjust to
changes in feed. Toxins produced by starving bacteria are
what kills the goat.
TETANUS (Lockjaw, Tetany) - Tetanus is a toxemia
caused by a specific neurotoxin from tissues infected by
Clostridium tetani. This bacterium is present
normally in the intestinal tract and it is transmitted to
the soil through the feces. Animals become infected when the
bacteria are introduced into tissue through wounds. Seven to
fourteen days is required to develop tetany. The bacteria
thrive in anaerobic (airless) conditions and find deep
puncture wounds, fresh umbilical cords and recent castration
sites suitable areas for infection. Tetanus is transmissible
to humans. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date. All
affected goats should be immediately culled and the rest
- Symptoms - Tetanus causes generalized stiffness of
the, body muscles, but it may be difficult to notice,
especially in pasture conditions. General stiffness
becomes more, pronounced as the disease progresses.
Reflexes increase in intensity and affected animals
become easily excited or spasmodic with any sudden
movement or noise.
- Treatment - There is no cure for advanced cases of
tetanus. Antitoxin and penicillin can be effective in the
early stages of tetany.
- Prevention - Vaccinate when the kids are 10 weeks of
age, At this time their immune systems are mature enough
for the vaccine to provide lasting immunity. Maternal
colostrum will provide protection for a maximum of 12
weeks. Treat deep wounds with penicillin to arrest the
CASEOUS LYMPHADENITIS (Cheesy Gland) - This is a
bacterial infection caused by Cornybacterium
pseudotuberculosis primarily of the peripheral lymph
nodes that progresses to visceral nodes and intestinal
organs. It can be caused when small head and neck wounds
become infected with the coccobacillus from fresh pus of an
infected animal. Infection may also develop with penetration
of the oral mucosa following ingestion of infected pus
contaminating a communal feeder or water trough. Research
indicates that it can even result from direct penetration of
unbroken skin. CLA rarely occurs in healthy herds. Single
occurences should not trigger drastic actions.
- Symptoms -Infected areas will swell resulting in
thick-walled abscesses producing greenish-white pus. When
superficial abscesses are present, the infection is
generally tolerated well. However, as infection enters
the lymphatic system more serious complications may
arise. Chronic disease results from extensive visceral or
lung involvement and may lead to unthriftiness, pneumonia
and reproductive failure.
- Treatment - There is no cure for caseous
lymphadenitis. Copper sulfate or iodine can be used to
cleanse the area after draining the abcess. Long term
penicillin injections may also be beneficial.
- Prevention - Good management and hygiene are
necessary to prevent a serious outbreak of this disease.
Infected animals should be combed last and all equipment
cleaned with disinfectant. Draining all abscesses
frequently will prevent them from breaking open in the
pasture or pens and spreading the infection. It may be
advisable to isolate or cull animals with caseous
lymphadenitis. Effective vaccines for CLA have not been
perfected for goats.
PNEUMONIA - Pneumonia is a common respiratory
disease that results in an inflammation of the lung. Several
different kinds of pneumonia can be classified. The disease
can be caused by severe lungworm infestation,
Corynebacterium, mycoplasm, chlamydia as well as other
bacteria and viruses. However, the most common forms are
those resulting from stress of entry of foreign material to
the lungs and stress due to shearing. Pneumonia can cause
death. Diagnosis by qualified personnel is essential to
ensure that correct treatment is initiated.
- Symptoms - Symptoms include fever, depression,
shortness of breath, rapid breathing, loss of appetite
and body condition and an audible rattle in the
- Treatment - Antibiotics should be administered
following veterinary consultation in order to determine
the proper one to use. Oxytetracycline, penicillin,
neomycin, or sulfonamides are effective. Affected goats
should be isolated.
- Prevention - The best prevention is to minimize
stress. Goats that are housed in poorly ventilated sheds
are most susceptible to pneumonia, although any disease
will rapidly spread through overcrowded animal
populations. Dusty feed can cause rhinitis or runny
noses. Changing feed or wetting the feed slightly can
eliminate this source of infection. Sudden rainstorms may
cause an outbreak of pneumonia as may the stress of
shearing or combing with its associated changes in
thermoregulation. Adequate shelter can minimize loss due
PINKEYE - Pinkeye is a bacterial disease usually
caused by Chlamydia spp., but it can be due to
mycoplasma or Moraxella capri.
- Symptoms - Pinkeye is a runny eye, progressing to an
opaque eye, which, if left untreated, can cause
ulceration of the cornea and permanent blindness.
- Treatment - Treat the eye aggressively at the first
sign of a runny eye. There are commercial eye powders
such as Tylan (neomycin), liquids and creams that should
be applied topically to the affected eye. Treat both eyes
at the first sign of infection. Animals showing more
advanced stages should be isolated in a dark shed or
shady pen. Flies are a major vector of the disease and
may infect other nearby goats, so fly control may be
necessary. Direct contact with infected animals is
another mode of transmission. If the animal becomes
totally blind, confine it in a small area with accessible
food and water. Usually, the treated animal will recover
with no residual blindness. Untreated animals may
progress to permanent blindness. Occasionally, animals
that have recovered continue to carry the disease.
- Prevention - Treat all new animals for pinkeye if
symptoms occur in one or more members of the group during
the quarantine period. Fly control can be important in
SOREMOUTH (Ovine ecthyma, contagious ecthyma,
"orf") - Soremouth is a viral disease involving parapox
virus causing open sores and scabs on the mouth and
elsewhere. This disease affects sheep and goats and the
virus can survive for up to thirty years in the soil. Scabs
from vaccinations can be infective to unvaccinated animals.
A case of souremouth is not the end of the world. Healthy
goats rarely show symptoms, but if stressed, can develop a
lesion or two. This is quite normal and does not constitute
a big problem.
- Symptoms - The primary lesions develop on the lips,
frequently involving the mucous membranes of the mouth.
Occasionally, lesions are found in the interdigital
region of the feet. Depending on the severity of the
infection, the scabs can be barely noticeable or so
severe as to cover the entire muzzle of the goat. All
mucous membranes can be infected in the most severe cases
as well as any areas with open sores. In very serious
cases, large areas of the body can be covered with open,
pustulating sores. In a nonvaccinated herd, an affected
kid can transmit the virus to its mothers' udder causing
external and internal lesions. The course of the disease
runs from one to four weeks. During the active stage, the
kid may go off feed and lose condition.
- Treatment - There is no cure for soremouth, however
symptoms can be ameliorated and stress reduced using the
- Isolate infected animals.
- Treat drinking water with terra or sulfa drugs
according to package directions to prevent secondary
- In serious cases, inject terramycin
intramuscularly at the maximum allowable dose.
- Administer Vitamin A in the water or use an
injectable form according to package
- Spray lesions with Neostat, an antibiotic iodine
solution to dry up the sores.
For more information on specific
disease processes either in article form or as part of a Goat Husbandry Power Point presentation, go to the Order
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