Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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CASEOUS LYMPHADENITIS
What is it and how to cope with it?

Caseous lymphadenitis (CL) is a contagious bacterial infection in goats (and sheep). Infection occurs through wounds caused by head butting, punctures, and shearing, as well as by oral ingestion of the exudate (pus) from an abscess that has ruptured. The lymph system filters the bacteria from the goat's body and pushes it outside into thick-walled encapsulated abscesses so that it can't harm the goat. Visible abscesses don't appear for months after infection as the lymph system slowly filters the bacteria. Abscesses can be internal, but there is much debate about frequency and correlation of occurence with external abscesses. Abscesses are attached to the back side of the skin rather than the goat's body. Like so many things about goats, we don't have sufficient research to give definitive answers.

gtmed2Not all abscesses are caused by corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, but those appearing at lymph-gland sites (often under the ear but not always) should be considered suspect and investigated. CL is an equal-opportunity infection -- no breed or sex is exempt. A burst CL abscess is virtually unmistakable; pus is cheesy, toothpaste-thick, whitish/yellowish -- and very infectious. A simple and inexpensive blood test can be performed to diagnose infection. There are several testing methods, but they are unreliable on animals under eight months of age; "false negatives" are high, particularly on goats showing no visible signs of infection. The most accurate testing is done on exudate (pus) taken from the abscess itself.

Because the thick pus is enclosed in a tough fibrous capsule which medicine cannot penetrate, antibiotic treatment is ineffective against the CL bacteria. Caseous Lymphadenitis is currently considered incurable. Existing vaccine available in the USA is for use with sheep and the manufacturer stresses not using it on goats. Autogenous vaccines -- made from a specific herd's infectious pus -- are sometimes helpful but often only slow down the rate of infection. Colorado Serum Company is developing a CL vaccine for goats that should be available to producers sometime in spring/summer 2008. I will disclose its availability on the Internet via my ChevonTalk meat-goat discussion group (chevontalk-subscribe@yahoogroups.com) and on my website's Articles page.

Handling visible CL abscesses can be done in two ways: (1) Lance and remove the pus, exposing the goat and all other goats to possible contact with the CL bacteria, or (2) Inject Formalin (10% buffered formaldehyde) into the abscess to "embalm" it and let it fall off in non-contagious *scab* form. I have done a lot of research on CL as it affects goats. I used to recommend confining the animal and lancing/draining the pus, but timing is critical as the abscess forms, matures, and goes from hard to soft with easy-to-burst thin skin covergtmed1ing it. I've learned that Formalin (classified as a *disinfectant*) best controls this disease. Note: I am not a vet and the usage of Formalin is 'off-label,' as is so much that goat producers use. The plus side of using Formalin to manage CL abcesses is no exposure of the bacteria either to the environment or other goats, no long-term isolation of treated animals, and less stress on both the producer and the goat. As long as Formalin is carefully injected inside the abscess, it is highly unlikely that it could penetrate its thick walls and migrate into body tissues or organs. Sub-cutaneous abscesses peel off with the hide at slaughter, and internal organ abscesses are easy to identify, condemn, and discard. Read my article on CL Management Using Formalin on the Articles page for details. Some vets are beginning to use this method for CL management

CL is a fact of life in goats (and sheep). If you don't have it yet, you will have it. You don't have to own or buy infected goats; flies can carry the bacteria from nearby infected animals and bring it to your goats. Unless you want to destroy goats that can be salvaged and utilized, Formalin makes a good partner in controlling CL .When Colorado Serum's new CL vaccine for goats is available, I urge all producers to buy it and use it. I am proud that my efforts over the years to convince Colorado Serum to produce a CL vaccine for goats is seeing results. This company that previously saw no significant market for a goat-specific CL vaccine has now decided to develop it. Let's prove to Colorado Serum that we truly need this vaccine and appreciate their taking the risk to develop it by buying and using it. The vaccine will not require a prescription, will be safe to use on pregnant does, and will not cause painful side effects. Companies such as Register Distributing, Jeffers will carry the product.

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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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