February 2017 Issue



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Enterotoxemia, also known as Overeating Disease or Pulpy Kidney Disease, is caused by the bacterium clostridium perfringens. There are many types of C. perfringens, but types C and D are what are usually seen in goats in the USA. Type C is more often found in young kids and type D is more common in adult goats. Goat raisers are fortunate that two of the few medications made specifically for goats are a vaccine to prevent Types C&D clostridium perfringens and an anti-toxin to give when the problem already exists.

Enterotoxemia is primarily a management-caused disease. Feeding too much carbohydrate-rich feed (processed grains) creates an environment of undigested starches in the rumen and intestines where C. perfringens toxins can flourish. Other causes can be feeding very lush pasture or baked goods such as bread. Goats breaking into a feed bin and eating their fill often results in Overeating Disease. Sudden changes in feed or pasture or in how or when you feed can cause Enterotoxemia. The pH of the rumen becomes acidic, rumen contractions slow down, toxins go systemic (throughout the goat's bloodstream), damaging blood vessels in the brain (become neurotoxic), and killing the goat. All changes in feed, hay, and pasture must be done slowly and over multiple days to avoid shocking the rumen and causing sickness.

Transmission of this bacterium from goat to goat is usually via feces, although it can also live in the soil. The bacterium is present in small amounts in most rumens but it does major damage when it establishes itself in the intestinal tract. The bacterium can generate in as little as eight minutes , which means quick onset of life-threatening illness.

Overeating Disease appears in goat herds in three main ways: (1) Very young nursing kids who overeat on dam's milk. Overeating Disease at this stage of life is known as Floppy Kid Syndrome, seldom has diarrhea as a symptom, and is a paracute condition (rapid onset with quick death if not immediately treated) usually caused by Type C. This condition is primarily seen in bottle babies and is caused by feeding too much milk at a time and too frequently. See my article on FKS on the Articles page of www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. (2) Just-weaned kids who are transitioning from milk to solid food. This type of Overeating Disease may or may not have diarrhea accompany it. Do NOT creep-feed kids. (3) Older kids and adult goats. They usually contract C. perfringens type D and green-turning-to-blackish diarrhea may occur. If it becomes chronic (recurring), there may be an underlying chronic wasting issue (perhaps Johnes Disease) that should be investigated via laboratory testing. Bob Glass, owner of Pan American Vet Lab in Hutto, Texas (n.e. of Austin) does such testing. Call him at 1-800-856-9655 or email bglass@pavlab.com.

Symptoms of Enterotoxemia include watery diarrhea (or no diarrhea, if paracute), lethargy (sluggish) , low body temperature as the goat begins to shut down and die, arching of the back (abdominal discomfort), screaming (extremely painful), head pulled back, lying on side and legs paddling, convulsions, coma, and death. (Note: Several of these symptoms can occur in other illnesses too, so you must learn to diagnose properly.) Recovery is unlikely if treatment isn't immediate and aggressive. Post-mortem diagnosis will reflect a pulpy kidney only if the necropsy is done immediately.

Treatment includes immediate sub-cutaneous (SQ) injection of C&D Anti-toxin (NOT the toxoid), Milk of Magnesia to push the toxic feed out of the body, electrolytes orally or Lactated Ringers SQ to keep the goat hydrated, activated charcoal orally to bind up the toxins, Banamine into the muscle (IM) for pain, and oral sulfa antibiotics (prescription SMZ). C&D anti-toxin is made for goats and has dosages on the label; follow dosage directions on the label and give every 12 hours until the goat is well. Occasionally a goat will have an allergic reaction to C&D anti-toxin, so have Benadryl and epinephrine on hand.

Milk of Magnesia should be dosed orally at 15 cc per 60 lbs bodyweight and given every four to six hours until the goat passes clumps of feces and then goes back to making normal pills. Keep the goat hydrated with electrolytes. Laxatives are dehydrating. Electrolytes like Bounce Back or ReSorb should be used, but Gatorade or Pedialyte can be substituted in an emergency.Mineral oil can be used instead of Milk of Magnesia, but mineral oil must be stomach tubed into the goat. Mineral oil has no taste, so if it is given orally, the goat may aspirate it into its lungs and develop pneumonia. Stomach tubing mineral oil eliminates that possibility. If you do not have a stomach tube and must orally drench mineral oil into the goat, mix it with GoatAde or a flavored juice that the goat can taste and slowly give it orally.

Activated charcoal should be dosed orally according to label directions. Teeth grinding is an indication of pain -- usually gut pain. Banamine dosage is 1 cc per 100 pounds bodyweight given IM (into the muscle) and should not be given more often than every 12 hours unless the goat is in extreme pain and on the verge of death. The prescription medication Sulfamethoxazole with Trimethoprin (SMZ) is very effective. I dose liquid SMZ orally at two to three cc's for very young to young kids. For adults, I use the 800 mg SMZ tablets. They dissolve easily in water for oral dosing at 6 tablets per 100 lbs bodyweight. Always give antibiotics to goats for five consecutive days. Both products are vet prescriptions and are worth the price and inconvenience of obtaining them.

Vaccination against Enterotoxemia exists and is one of the few vaccines made specifically for goats. It is inexpensive and should be administered by all goat producers. I recommend using the vaccine commonly known as CD/T, which is protection against C. perfringens types C &D plus tetanus. This vaccine is very effective if the infection is in the rumen; if the bacteria has taken up residence in the intestines, the vaccine is less effective. It is best to use the CD/T vaccine rather than 7-way or 8-way vaccines because multi-valent vaccines can overwhelm the immune system, resulting in dumping some of the toxoid protection (usually tetanus). Goats seldom have clostridial-based diseases other than tetanus. See my article on Multi-Valent Vaccines on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. Sterile injection-site abscesses are not unusual when administering the vaccine. Vaccinations should be given to young kids at two to three months of age and again annually but preferably every six months. Any goats that you bring into your herd (adults or kids) should be vaccinated immediately with first and second injections 21-30 days apart, regardless of age of the goats. Previously-vaccinated pregnant does should be boostered with one injection six to eight weeks before they give birth so that their newborn kids will have up-to-date protection in their dams' milk.

Outbreaks of C. Perfringens Type A have occurred in goats in some areas of the USA where dairy cows have been raised. Type A is particularly deadly, causing hemorrhagic bowel disease and killing up to 85% of affected cattle within 24 to 36 hours. The currently available c. Perfringens vaccines for goats do not protect against Type A. Novartis has a C. Perfringens Type A vaccine available for cattle; it may or may not be effective when used off-label in goats. Some vaccine manufacturers will make an autogenous vaccine for Type A upon producer request; like all autogenous vaccines, they tend to be expensive and usually require minimum purchases in the 500 dose range.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Lohn, Texas 2/12/17

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Why You Must Know The Difference

Vaccines are toxoids. They are used to try to prevent disease. Toxoids are used to provide long-term protection against disease. Anti-toxins are used when a problem already exists.

The three most frequently-used injectable vaccines (toxoids) for goats are the overeating disease vaccine, the tetanus vaccine, and the pasteurella pneumonia vaccine. The vaccine for overeating disease combined with tetanus prevention is called "CD/T." These letters represent protection against overeating disease caused by clostridium perfringens Types C & D. The "T" part of the vaccine provides long-term protection against tetanus.

CD/T and pneumonia vaccines (toxoids) used with goats are given to all unvaccinated goats (adults and kids) twice -- 21 to 30 days apart. Booster vaccinations are then given annually to previously vaccinated goats, although I prefer boosting this protection twice a year. I booster pregnant does six weeks before kidding to provide immunological protection for the newborn kids via their dams' milk. Newborn kids are born without a functioning immune system. I use the combination CD/T toxoid vaccine rather than the two individual vaccines of C&D toxoid and tetanus toxoid. Tip: Assume that every goat you buy has not been vaccinated unless you have seen it done with your own eyes and vaccinate upon arrival at your property.

Anti-toxin vaccines are used in medical emergencies when immediate but short-term protection is required. I use two anti-toxin injectables: C&D Anti-Toxin and Tetanus Anti-Toxin. C&D Anti-Toxin should be used whenever overeating disease, ruminal acidosis, or any rumen-related toxicity is suspected to be the cause of the goat's illness. As with the vaccines (toxoids), the anti-toxins are used SQ (sub-cutaneously, i.e. under the skin). C&D Anti-Toxin is very safe to use and has a wide margin of error. It is one of the few medications which can be used without fear of hurting the animal. There is no such thing as a pneumonia anti-toxin. Vaccinate with a pneumonia toxoid regularly. When a goat develops pneumonia, prescription antibiotics are required.

Tetanus Anti-Toxin is used when castrating (wethering a goat), disbudding, injuries (bites, cuts, puncture wounds), and when tetanus-like symptoms are present (jaw is locked and mouth won't open, goat's neck is hard bent to the side and unable to be straightened, eyes unfocused, difficulty standing). Tetanus is commonly called Lockjaw. Some of these symptoms reflect other illnesses, so you must diagnose correctly.

Temporary protection provided by anti-toxins lasts about 7 to 14 days. If the goat survives the illness, you must wait at least five days after this two-week time frame and begin the two-vaccination toxoid series again, because the anti-toxin has cancelled the benefits of the vaccine.

Vaccines (toxoids) will sometimes cause a knot or abscess known as an injection-site granuloma. This is evidence that the goat's immune system is having a good response to the vaccine. These are "killed" vaccines so the organisms being vaccinated against are not active in these grandulomas. Injection-site granulomas usually don't go away on their own. I wait several weeks after vaccinating to be sure that a good reaction to the vaccine has occurred, then I lance, clean, and flush the granulomas with iodine.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 02/12/17



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