Herd Health - CAE and CL
***Disclaimer**** I am not a veterinarian. I have been raising goats for over 23 years and have done countless hours of research on goat care, health, diseases etc. The information below is a result of that research and my experience in raising goats. In no way is the information intended to take the place of advice and services of a veterinarian.
What is CAE and CL? The mention of these two diseases seem to send tremors down the backs of anyone who raises goats or who wants to. Both CAE and CL can be devastating to a goat owner. Education about these two is not only key but paramount to owning goats.
CAE is short for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis - it is a viral infection and can manifest itself as pneumonia, mastitis (hard udder), arthritis (swollen joints), and chronic wasting. There is no cure for CAE, an infected goat is infected for life. CAE decreases a goat's lifetime
Our original Saanens came from a veterinarian who regularly tested for CAE and did CAE prevention in raising the kids. Such as removing kids at birth and feeding them heat treated colostrum and pasteurized milk. We started our journey into raising goats by having our herd tested and were determined if we had a positive we would put the goat down. So came time to test the goats which we were having done by "Dr. B" a veterinarian who also raised dairy goats. "Dr. B" said he had tested his own herd. He took two samples and sent them off to two different labs. He had differing results - some positives from one lab was negative from the other and vice versa. He explained that the test was for antibodies of the disease, not the disease itself. Here's a thought.....What if you have a goat that has been exposed but does not have the disease? However, because they have built up antibodies, they will test positive for the disease when they could be "resistant" to it. Well, I did more research - lots more research. Today, I no longer test for CAE (unless of course a buyer requires the test) - I instead look for symptoms. I think CAE is definitely a reason you should inspect the herd from where you are purchasing your goats and look at the overall health and for the signs of the CAE.
Link to learn more about CAE....
USDA - CAE
CL is short for Caseous lymphandenitis - it is a bacterial infection of the lymph nodes and is very contagious between animals and it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get rid of. It can be passed to other goats via inanimate objects such as feed buckets and water troughs. It also can lay dormant in the soil for up to 2 years. There has been some development in a vaccine for CL, but only time will tell if that will be an effective way to manage or eradicate it. Negatives about the vaccine: there are side effects and a vaccinated animal might show a false positive for the actual test for CL. For me personally, I do not vaccinate for CL, but I err on the side of caution in keeping a "fairly" closed herd. What does that mean? I do not let goats onto our farm that do not belong to us. Period. This also includes animals that were born on our farm and then later sold. I personally inspect the herds of any animals we purchase and the purchased animal is quarantined. I NEVER buy animals from the sale barn. Years ago we adopted the saying "Not all animals at the sale barn are bad, BUT all bad animals go to the sale barn." This is true for horses, cows, goats, sheep, etc. Now, the reason I say my herd is "fairly" closed is we do purchase animals from "clean" herds, as well as, we have in the past and hope in the future to show our goats. We do take extra precautions when showing such as: we minimize contact with other goats and we spray any pens down with a bleach solution before allowing our goats entry.
What to do if you have a goat with an abscess. First, determine if it is in a lymph node area. If it is - quarantine the goat. I would then have a veterinarian lance the abscess and test the pus for CL. Goats get abscesses for a number of reasons - they are not all CL. The most common one I see in my herd are in the cheek area where they chew their cud. This is caused by some irritant that could be in whatever they ate. No not the tin can. My goats have been extremely efficient at removing the brambles, blackberries and wild roses . All of which have thorns.
Links to learn more about CL:
CSU - CL in Small Ruminants
Utah State Extension CL management in goats
Goat World - CL