Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis, Johnes, & Caseous Lymphadenitis
Different Diseases Requiring Different Management
Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis (CAE), Johnes, and Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) are very different diseases with very different concerns for the goat raiser. CAE and Johnes should not be tolerated in a goat herd; CL, on the other hand, is a "nuisance" disease for which we have a very effective vaccine made specifically for goats by Texas Vet Lab in San Angelo, Texas.
CAE is a retro-virus, like AIDS. An extremely debilitating disease to the infected goat, CAE is is transmitted through colostrum, milk, and body fluids. CAE is not believed to be transmittable to humans.
CAE blood tests detect antibody produced in response to infection with the CAE virus. Because only very small amounts of the antibody are produced in the early stages of infection, these low antibody levels may not be detectable by some blood tests. Knowledgeable goat raisers don't test for CAE until the goat is at least eight (8) months of age. Most female goats will develop detectable levels of antibody at or shortly after their first freshening (kidding).
CAE is incurable, untreatable, and not manageable. Goats infected with the CAE virus should be slaughtered for meat. The meat is safe for human consumption. Unfortunately, many dairy goat raisers use sperm from high milk-producing bucks that are CAE-positive, perpetuating this disease in exchange for high milkability. It isn't good for any species to tolerate a disease in exchange for short-term benefits. CAE should and could be eradicated; the first step is to discontinue using sperm from CAE-positive bucks.
Johnes Disease is the caprine equivalent of chronic wasting disease in deer. This bacteria is passed via fecal-to-oral contact. Chronic in dairy cattle herds and becoming more common in goat herds, Johnes Disease stays in the ground for a very long time; no one knows how long. Johnes is debilitating to infected goats and doesn't show up for years, resulting in your entire herd's becoming infected before you know you have a problem. Johnes-infected goats should be slaughtered for food consumption; the meat is safe to eat.
Johnes is not believed to be transmittable to humans, but it is incurable and untreatable in goats. Both types of tests for Johnes have their drawbacks, but if you suspect Johnes Disease, you should have the goats tested immediately.
CL is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted through oral ingestion of the pus or through direct contact with the pus through a cut on the body. CL does not transmit through colostrum, milk, or bodily fluids. I repeat: CL does "not" transmit through colostrum, milk, or bodily fluids. To protect the goat from illness that may be caused by the bacteria, an amazing process takes place. The CL bacteria is filtered by the goat's lymph system into thick-walled encapsulated abscesses that are on the underside of the skin. These abscesses are impenetrable by antibiotics.
The problem with CL occurs when an abscess breaks open into the environment, spreading pus that can infect the goat's herdmates. Internal abscesses are possible but much more common in sheep than in goats. Slaughter facilities routinely identify and condemn abscesses in internal organs and process the rest of the goat for food. The meat from CL-infected goats is safe to eat after the affected areas have been condemned and discarded.
Blood testing for CL has a high degree of accuracy, depending upon the type of blood test used, but the only way to be certain if the abscess contains the CL bacteria is to test the exudate (pus). There are many types of abscesses. Two abscesses often visually mis-diagnosed as CL are pasteurella abscesses and A. pyogenes abscesses. It infuriates me that vets routinely diagnose abscesses as CL without any testing, advising people to euthanize their goats. This is wrong.
CL can be vaccinated against with the Texas Vet Lab vaccine developed specifically for goats. CL is manageable by lancing, cleaning out abscesses, flushing with iodine, and vaccinating with the CL vaccine made by Texas Vet Lab. I no longer recommend injecting the abscess with 10% Formalin because people don't use Formalin correctly. While no goat raiser chooses to have CL or any other infectious disease in the herd, CL is nowhere near the health, management, or economic disaster that are CAE and Johnes.
Bob Glass, owner of Pan American Vet Lab is located in Blue, Texas (east of Austin, Texas). He performs blood tests to identify all three diseases and pus tests to identify CL. His prices are very affordable. Pan American Vet Lab: 512 964 3927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you suspect any disease in one of your goats, always use disposable gloves when handling the animal. Before you decide to cull the goat, you need to know what choices are available. Your goals and your managerial style will impact your decision. I am presenting these options so that you can make informed decisions based upon facts rather than emotional reactions, here say from other goat raisers, and vets that don't know anything about goats or goat diseases.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Briggs, Texas 6.1.20
Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)
All information and photos copyright © Onion Creek Ranch and may not be used without express written permission of Onion Creek Ranch. TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT ™ and TEXMASTER™ are Trademarks of Onion Creek Ranch . All artwork and graphics © DTP, Ink and Onion Creek Ranch.