Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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How do goat raisers  manage Caseous Lymphadenitis now that Texas Vet Lab's vaccine to prevent CL in goats was permanently withdrawn from the market on June 1, 2021?     The company chose not to renew its license  because sales were not enough to continue vaccine production.

In  2022, we  know several methods   to manage CL.     It is true that we  have no vaccine for CL in goats.  It is also true that the CL vaccine  for  sheep  (CaseBac)  does not  prevent CL in goats and its manufacturer, Colorado Serum, recommends against its usage with goats.    But we do have viable management alternatives which I review  in this article.

Caseous Lymphadenitis is a contagious bacterial infection that appears at lymph gland sites as abscesses. Not all abscesses are CL, but the contents of all abscesses should be tested to determine their bacterial content.    Because the bacteria Corynebacterium Pseudotuberculosis is resistant to all antibiotics, , Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) should be considered neither curable nor completely preventable at this time.   However,    CL    is   MANAGEABLE.

CL is primarily a management and nuisance disease.       Unlike Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis (CAE) and Johnes Disease, CL does not damage the health of or kill the goat except in very rare instances like abscesses in udders.   CL also does NOT   pass in semen, vaginal fluids, saliva, or milk.  The bacteria only passes from goat to goat by direct contact with the pus, either through cuts on the body (for example, shearing)  or oral ingestion by the goat (for example, at a feed trough).  Quality goats do not  have to be culled or euthanized.   CL is  manageable.

Most abscesses, whether CL or another bacteria, appear under the ear, because that is the location of the first set of lymph glands closest to the mouth where the pus was likely ingested.

If you buy and sell goats or have any significant number of them, you are likely to encounter CL. Transmission vectors (ways to spread the disease) can be insects, birds,  animals,  tires, clothing,  footwear, and a host of other ways   over which you have little control.

Prepare yourself in advance on how to manage and control CL.

Alternative  #1:  Have an AUTOGENOUS vaccine made for use with your herd.  Texas Vet Lab, now owned by Bimeda, will develop an autogenous vaccine for you.    Producers must go through a licensed vet to obtain this vaccine and that VOR (Veterinarian of Record)  must make the contact with Bimeda.  The minimum order is 1000 doses  of  100 ml bottles.   The VOR  must collect samples of pus from actively infected goats and ship them to Bimeda Biological diagnostic lab.  The protocol for vets to follow is available on Bimeda's website.   1-800-284-8403 is Bimeda's toll-free number.  Website: US-Biologicals@bimeda.com.  My contact has long been Tom Thompson, who is a very knowledge and helpful man.

Alternative #2:      Many years ago  on ChevonTalk, the Internet meat-goat education and discussion group that I have owned since November 1998 (now on Groups.io),  Dr. Rosemarie Szostak   recounted how she gained control over Caseous Lymphadenitis in her  herd. Dr. Szostak, who holds a PhD in chemistry and is also a goat owner, injected 10% buffered Formalin into the abscesses.

Formalin, chemically classified as a DISINFECTANT , is a buffered solution of formaldehyde. I recommended its usage before the Texas Vet Lab vaccine was available, and I am again suggesting investigating its usage  now that the vaccine is off the market.  While Formalin usage will not cure CL (nothing will, at present), it does provide an effective management and control alternative, and  IF USED PROPERLY,  can be very effective.   Use only 10% buffered Formalin.

The FIRST STEP is to make sure that you are dealing with CL.   Do NOT  automatically assume that an abscess is CL.  There are many types of abscesses, and most types need  to be lanced, drained, and flushed with iodine; they should NOT be injected with Formalin.

Bob Glass, owner of Pan American Vet Lab near Austin, Texas, can test for CL.  He performs both blood and exudate (pus) tests.  Blood tests are not nearly as reliable as testing the pus.  Call Bob Glass at 512 964 3927 or email him at bglass@pavlab.com for collection instructions, shipping,  and pricing.   Bob will hopefully  "talk you off the CL ledge."   He and I are both used to talking with people who become  hysterical about the possibility of having CL in their goat herd.

Alternative #3:  Lance the abscess with a #10 scalpel, clean out the pus, and flush with strong iodine or equivalent.

Whether you choose to lance the abscess or inject 10% buffered Formalin into it, the  ONLY   time to lance or  use  10% buffered Formalin  is when the hair  has begun to come off  and the knot is  soft.  CL abscesses do not appear  overnight --   you  just  didn't notice its development.    CL abscesses develop  slowly over a period of weeks  or months  as the lymph gland system filters this bacteria from the body into an encapsulated abscess outside the body.   Some abscesses encapsulate into several knots, while others become a single mass. Pregnant does are a special  concern, because you  don't want newborn kids exposed to the CL bacteria if the abscess ruptures.

Note: I am NOT a veterinarian and the usage of Formalin is NOT  "approved"  for this specific purpose, but it isn't illegal either, to my knowledge.   You may find difficulty in locating and purchasing this product. Like so much of what we  have to use with goats, this is an off-label/extra-label usage.  Withdrawal time isn't an issue since the Formalin goes into the encapsulated abscess, not the goat's body.

CL abscesses encapsulate; they create a thick wall around the exudate (pus), isolating the infected material from the rest of the goat's body.   It  is highly unlikely that Formalin would be able to migrate to any other part of the goat's body IF you use it correctly.

When a  goat is slaughtered and the hide is removed, subcutaneous (under-the-skin) abscesses peel off with the hide. Internal organs that have  abscesses, such as udders and lungs, go into the offals (trash) bucket as parts of the goat that are not eaten. Abscesses are  visible in the organs of slaughtered goats, making them easy to recognize, cut out,  and discard.


First step is to make sure that the abscess is CL.   Abscesses that are not CL should be lanced, cleaned out, and flushed with strong  iodine or equivalent.   Do NOT inject Formalin into them.   For example,  arcanobacterium pyogenes (aka trueperella pyogenes) is often the bacteria found in abscesses involving thorns or other sharp objects that have entered  the goat's body.   Until the object is removed from the abscess, the body will continue to produce large amounts of fluid into an increasingly larger abscess.  I have seen a. pyogenes abscesses  in chest walls  that, when lanced, the pus filled  a gallon milk jug.   They must be lanced and cleaned out.

Supplies needed for using 10% buffered Formalin in a CL abscess:          3cc Luer-lock syringes, 25 gauge needles, disposable gloves, paper towels, protective eye wear,  plastic disposable Wal-Mart type bags, strong  iodine or equivalent in a squeeze bottle with an applicator tip, #10 disposable scalpels,  container into which discarded needles can be placed, bleach, bottle of 10% buffered Formalin, small-animal portable electric clippers or hand-operated hair-cutting scissors, and a strong person to hold the goat very still.

After you have had the exudate (pus) tested and determined that the abscess contains the CL bacteria,  then  put your fingers  around  the abscess.    If you can move the skin over it, the abscess is NOT ready for Formalin injection (or lancing). If you can get your fingers almost completely around the abscess and pull it away from the body, this means that the abscess is now adhered to the underside of the hide and almost always is soft enough to inject Formalin.   (If the pus inside the abscess is still hard, Formalin cannot mix with it and kill the bacteria.)   If you wait until the hair is completely off the abscess, the skin will be drawn too tight and  thin and injecting Formalin will likely  cause it to rupture. Formalin injection is most successful when the knot is soft, still has most of the hair on it, and can be pulled away from the body by wrapping your fingers around it.

NOTE: If you cannot or do not want to use  Formalin, you can cross-hatch lance, clean out, and flush with strong iodine, then isolate the goat for a few days to make sure the abscess isn't dripping.  You may have to go back in and clean it out a second time, repeating the procedure.  If pus drops on the ground or equipment, clean it up, properly dispose of it, and pour bleach over the area affected.

Using a 3 cc Luer-lock syringe (to prevent the needle from blowing off the syringe) and a 25-gauge needle (to produce as small a hole as possible to prevent Formalin backflow), have someone  hold the goat still.  Think of the abscess as a clock face and inject PARALLEL TO THE BODY  into the abscess at the 12 o'clock position (when the goat is on its feet) so that the Formalin is less likely to run out. Be positive that the needle is in the abscess and NOT in the goat's body. Be aware of major artery and vein locations in order to avoid them -- particularly the jugular vein in the goat's neck. While slowly pushing the syringe's plunger, move the needle inside the abscess in a windshield wiper motion to better distribute Formalin throughout the soft pus.

Start with a 3 cc syringe filled with about  1-1/2 cc's Formalin and SLOWLY fill the abscess until it is firm but not tight.   Use only what is needed;  do not overfill with Formalin.   Overfilling the abscess can result in swelling  and discomfort for the goat.   Feedback that I've received from people that have injected Formalin indicates that they often use too much.

Hold a paper towel over the injection site when the needle is removed to prevent Formalin from flowing back out,  like a lab technician does when drawing blood. Some goats seem to  feel the flow of Formalin, possibly in the form of coldness or pressure.    Mostly the goat doesn't like being held.

Confinement of the goat in your Isolation Pen is recommended until you are positive that you have the abscess sufficiently filled with Formalin. If you don't have an Isolation Pen, build one now.   Every goat raiser needs one.

Sometimes abscesses occur within abscesses. Check the goat's abscesses for several days after initial injection of Formalin, feeling for soft spots. It will always feel slightly soft around the perimeter of the abscess where it meets the goat's body.   Inject SMALL  amounts of  Formalin into any other remaining soft spots. The goal is to achieve a hard (embalmed) knot. Formalin combines with and hardens the pus quickly.

Once the abscess feels hard all over, leave it alone. Over a period of weeks, it will shrink as a hard black/grayish thick scab develops. Eventually the scab will loosen around the perimeter's edges and either fall off or will need to be gently pulled off. The hardened abscess that comes off will have dry pus inside that has been disinfected by the Formalin; dispose of it properly. Fresh pink skin will appear inside a slightly-recessed hole. Let it heal and hair grow over it.   If done correctly, no visible evidence of a CL abscess will remain. Put the goat back with its herd.

If you get Formalin on your skin or in your eyes or mucous membranes, flush thoroughly with clean tap water. While applying Formalin to the hoof of a goat with hoof rot, I have gotten Formalin in my eye (under my contact lens) and it didn't sting or affect my eyesight. Formalin is odorless, colorless, and the consistency of water.

The plus side of using Formalin to manage CL abscesses is no exposure of the bacteria to either the environment or other goats, no long-term isolation of the treated animals, and less stress on the goat raiser.  The negatives include concern about off-label usage, possible objection of some authorities to this application, and the fact that many goat raisers do not use the Formalin properly.     NOT  all abscesses are CL abscesses.  Have the PUS tested.

There are articles on my website's Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com on CL and other types of abscesses, as well as a diagram of lymph gland sites in the goat's body.

You must do your own due diligence and decide which course of action to follow when dealing with Caseous Lymphadenitis. It is my opinion that unless goat breeders want to continue destroying good animals and incurring the financial losses that such decisions bring, then we all must learn  how to manage  Caseous Lymphadenitis if and when it appears in our herds.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 10.1.22

Meat Goat Mania

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!)

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