Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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Lungworms are a type of roundworm that can be found in the lungs and/or bronchial tissues of goats. Called protostrongylids, there are at least five types of lungworms, two kinds of which are commonly found throughout the United States in areas of heavy rainfall. Wet and undrained pastures are prime areas for lungworms.

The lungworm's larvae gets inside the goat's body when the animal eats an infected slug or snail. Some types of lungworms don't need the snail or slug as a host; instead, they develop into the infective stage on plants that the goat ingests. Adult worms lay eggs in the goat's lungs or bronchial tissue. The eggs hatch into larvae, which are then coughed up and swallowed and pass through the goat's body and into its feces. They are white and thin in appearance and can be three inches in length. The lungworm's life cycle ranges between five and ten weeks. It remains infective to the goat for at least one year.

Goats with lungworms may appear healthy. Severely-infected goats may cough and have trouble breathing. Pneumonia and bronchitis may develop, particularly in young kids. Blocked capillaries and fluid in the lungs can cause illness and death. Lungworms cause irritation to bronchial and lung tissues, resulting in large amounts of mucous that cause difficulty in breathing, repeated deep coughing, and loss of appetite. All lungworm infections cause scarring of bronchial and lung tissues, resulting in some amount of reduced lung capacity.

A mature goat's immune system is usually able to combat a mild lungworm ,infestation. Kids are the hardest hit, since their immune systems are still developing. Sometimes coccidiosis is accompanied by persistent coughing and is mistaken for lungworm infection. Allergic reactions to dust and pollens are sometimes mis-diagnosed as lungworm infestation. Unless the producer raises goats in an area of heavy rainfall and/or standing water, lungworms are probably not the cause of coughing. Coughing can be caused by something as simple as the goat's eating or drinking too fast.

Humans cannot become infected by lungworms and meat from infected goats is safe for human consumption.

There are two ways to diagnose lungworms: (1) Baerman fecal testing, which is a somewhat tricky fecal sedimentation procedure that is easy to perform incorrectly. Having a trained technician perform the Baerman is recommended. Oftentimes very few eggs are found, even by experienced operators. (2) Necropsy examination of the lungs and bronchial tissues after the goat has died. Both of these approaches have costs attached to them that the goat rancher may not want to expend. The producer who suspects lungworm infection is usually better off beginning immediate treatment as outlined below and dispense with testing.

The best treatment is preventative. Keep goats off wet, undrained pastures. Don't allow them to graze early in the morning when snails and slugs are still out. Treat the goats with Ivomec 1% cattle injectable given orally before new pasture season arrives and again in early fall. Ivermectin has been found to be most effective against lungworms. Producers running donkeys with goats are advised to keep the donkeys dewormed; donkeys are known to be a common host for lungworms. And that old standby, pasture rotation, is essential in controlling the spread of lungworms.

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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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