Goat Diseases

Goat Diseases and Health Conditions south africa

A sound management program to keep animals healthy is basic to the production of goats.

Producers must observe animals closely to keep individual animals and the whole herd or flock healthy and productive.

If the health status of a herd is compromised, that operation will not be as efficient as possible.

There are some human health risks when dealing with diseased animals.

While most diseases affecting sheep and goats do not pose any human health risks, some are zoonotic and it is important to protect not only caretakers but anyone else that may come in contact with diseased animals.


Anemia in Goats


Anemia in goats can be deadly very quickly. There are several possible causes of goat anemia, although the treatment regimen will be mostly the same regardless of the cause. The first step in treatment is to recognize that your goat has anemia then identify the cause. The road to full recovery can take time, but without quick diagnosis and action, that recovery may never happen.


Goat Bloat


The rumen produces a lot of gas from the fermentation of food, and goats (as well as all other ruminants) normally get rid of this gas by belching. If something blocks the escape of gas from the rumen, the rumen will begin to expand. You will notice a large bulge on the animal’s left side, as if it had swallowed a soccer ball.

Signs of bloat include restlessness, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, and increased salivation. The stomach becomes progressively distended on the left side. The goat may bite and or kick at the abdominal region, followed by increased discomfort, respiratory distress, collapse, and death.


Bottle Jaw in Goats


Bottle jaw is a term used to describe an area of edema under the chin of a goat. Edema is intra-cellular fluid, or simply swelling. It’s not an infection and would run clear if drained. Bottle jaw is not a condition, but a symptom of an underlying problem.

You may notice that a goat with bottle jaw tends to worsen throughout the day. The swelling will decrease overnight and may seem to have disappeared from the day before. As the day goes on, the swelling will return. Bottle jaw appears in severely anemic goats. If your goat has bottle jaw then it needs treatment as soon as possible.


Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)


Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) is a contagious viral disease of goats. The disease is typically spread from mother to kid through the ingestion of colostrum or milk. CAE virus may also be spread among adult goats through contact with body secretions including blood and feces of infected goats.

There are 5 major forms of CAE in goats: arthritis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pneumonia, mastitis, and chronic wasting. The arthritic form of the disease is most common in adult goats, while the encephalitic form is most common in kids.


CL in Goats


Caseous lymphadenitis (CL) is a chronic infection goats caused by Cornebacterium pseudotuberculosis bacteria. This contagious disease is best known for abscesses (build-up of pus) in the external lymph nodes of the neck and abdomen. However, CL abscesses can also form internally in the lungs, udder, liver, and kidneys.

Goats with CL can lead to economic losses due to carcass condemnation, reduced milk production, and weight loss. Hides from slaughtered goats may also be worth less due to CL blemishes.


Coccidiosis in Goats


Coccidiosis of goats is caused by various Eimeria species of protozoan parasites. Transmission of coccidiosis to kids occurs when infected animals shed the organisms in feces, resulting in contaminated feed or water. Contaminated bedding can be a significant source of infection in a herd. All mature goats are infected with small numbers of coccidia but show no clinical signs of disease because of acquired immunity.

The disease occurs when kids, not immune to coccidia, ingest large numbers of coccidia from the contaminated environment. The coccidia infection is usually located in the middle and lower portions of the small intestine and sometimes in the upper portion of the large intestine. The small intestine is the major site of nutrient absorption in goat kids.


Enterotoxemia in Goats (Overeating Disease in Goats)


Enterotoxemia, also known as overeating or pulpy kidney disease, is a condition caused by the absorption of a large number of toxins from the intestines. Clostridium perfringens types C & D are bacteria normally found in the soil and as part of the normal microflora in the gastrointestinal tract of healthy goats. Under certain conditions, these bacteria can rapidly reproduce in the animals, producing large quantities of toxins.

The toxins cause enterocolitis (inflammation of the intestine), increase the permeability of the blood vessels and become absorbed in the blood. They circulate in the bloodstream, promoting swelling in the lungs and kidneys.


Floppy Kid Syndrome in Goats


A kid who had appeared healthy since birth suddenly can’t stand or even nurse or wrap its tongue around a nipple. The kid does not have diarrhea and is not dehydrated. If not treated, it may fall into a coma and die within 24 to 36 hours. In a small number of cases, a kid has recovered completely without treatment, but that is obviously not recommended.

Rather than having a neutral pH in the bloodstream, it becomes acidic due to undigested milk in the stomach, caused by overfeeding. As a reminder, this can happen in dam-raised kids & bottle-fed babies.

With dam-raised kids, it is often seen when the dam & kid are kept in a small area where the dam is unable to get far enough away from the baby to stop it from suckling. In bottle-fed kids, it is often due to forcing larger amounts of milk that the kid can handle, or when using a Lumbar, the kid is overconsuming.


Hoof Rot in Goats


Goats have two toes or a cloven hoof. In between the two toes, there is an interdigital space that is fleshy. The interdigital space is warm and usually dry. Goats that are in damp, muddy pastures get moisture in this interdigital space. There are a few types of bacteria that live in the soil that thrive in moist, damp areas like the space between a goat’s toes when wet.

The bacteria multiply and start to produce an enzyme that breaks down the cells of the flesh in between the goat’s toes. So it’s no wonder that a goat with hoof rot has tender feet! If the infection isn’t caught soon enough, the bacteria can eat away parts of the hoof wall, leading to serious damage that often needs veterinary intervention.


Goat Lice


Goat lice is a common group of ectoparasitic insects of goats. Generally, goat lice are host-specific and only attack goats and their close relatives, such as sheep. There are five species of goat louse that fall into two categories based on feeding habits.

  1. The sucking lice feed by piercing the skin with tiny needle-like mouthparts to take blood directly from the capillaries.
  2. The chewing lice (also known as biting lice) have large robust mouthparts designed to scrape and abrade the skin and hair. Chewing lice consume tiny bits of skin, skin secretions, and hair for food.

The feeding habits and activity of these insects result in discomfort and irritation to the animal. Infested animals often cause structural damage to farm facilities by rubbing and scratching on fences and posts resulting in hair loss, skin damage, wounds, and secondary infections. Parasites cause animals to have an unthrifty appearance, poor feed conversion, and reduced weight gains and milk production.


Listeriosis in Goats


Listeriosis is an important infectious disease of goats most commonly causing encephalitis, but also capable of causing blood poisoning and abortion. The organism can be shed in the milk of normal carrier goats as well as sick goats and the zoonotic potential (transmission to humans) of listeriosis is a concern.

The nervous or encephalitic form has a rapid course and causes death in 24 to 48 hours after symptoms appear. Symptoms include circling in one direction, high fever, lack of appetite, red tissues around the eyes (maybe with blindness), and depression.

Affected animals may have a paralysis of one side of the face, represented by a droopy ear, drooping eyelid, and saliva running from limp lips. Up to 20% of the goats in a herd may be involved.

When near death, the animal will lie down and may have fits. Confirming diagnosis can only be made in a diagnostic laboratory but isolation of the organism from goat tissues and organic materials such as animal feeds can be problematic.


Mange in Goats


Mange is essentially a severe dermatitis caused by an infestation of either mites or lice. Both mites and lice are ectoparasites that inhabit the skin where they feed on skin debris, subcutaneous secretions, blood or lymph. Some will puncture the skin to feed, and others scavenge from the skins surface. Infestation with mites is known as acariasis, and infestation with lice is known as pediculosis.

Typical clinical signs of mange include restlessness, intense scratching, rubbing, coat damage, exhaustion, poor growth rates and skin damage. Severe cases of mange are a significant welfare concern and can cause severe economic losses.


Mastitis in Goats


Mastitis is inflammation of the mammary gland, usually caused by an infectious process. The most prominent signs are painful, hot, hard and swollen udders, with decreased milk production. Lameness also occurs on the affected side. Nursing kids will appear hungry and weak and will die if the disease is not treated.

The doe may by clinically ill with fever, loss of appetite and depression. Causative agents range from gram-positive to gram-negative bacteria, mycoplasmic organisms and viruses.

The more severe forms of this disease include bluebag, hard bag and udder edema. Bluebag refers to gangrene mastitis. The bag changes colour, going from red to gray to bluish tinged/black. These animals are euthanized and not used for food.


Mites on Goats


Mites infest goats mainly during colder months. They come in two types: burrowing and non-burrowing. The non-burrowing mites usually start in hairy areas of the body, such as the tail, and then work their way along the body. They attach to the skin and puncture it, releasing body fluid. You may see crusty patches and hair loss on a goat under attack from mites. Some mites live in goats ears.

Burrowing mites are related to the mite that causes scabies in humans. They start in areas that are hairless or have little hair, such as the goat’s face or ears. They cause itching and bare burrows in the skin and, eventually, may lead to thickened skin and extensive hair loss.


Goat Parasites


Goat internal parasites (particularly worms) are one of the greatest challenges facing goat-keepers today. That’s How to identify and control Goat Internal Parasites because some internal parasites attack quickly and can be deadly.

Internal parasites that affect goats fall into two categories – parasitic intestinal worms and other internal parasites. Both can be fatal to goats so it’s important to understand what they are when to treat them, and how to treat them.

Internal goat parasites are particularly difficult to deal with because it’s hard to tell what kind and how many of them your goats have.


Pink Eye in Goats


Pink eye is an infectious and contagious bacterial disease of sheep, goats, and other animals. Though most common in the summer and in young animals, it may occur at any time of the year and in sheep and goats of any age. It occurs in all sheep and goat-raising areas of the world, though the primary causative organisms may vary. Pink eye is caused by one of a number of different microorganisms.