July 2012 Issue



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Misconceptions About the Disease and the CL Vaccine

In May 2012, Texas Vet Lab, Inc. of San Angelo, Texas announced the US government approval of its new vaccine to control Caseous Lymphadenitis in goats. Jim Bob Harris, President and owner of Texas Vet Lab, Inc. generously permitted me to make the nationwide announcement via ChevonTalk and MeatGoatMania on Yahoogroups. Since that announcement, questions have arisen that I will address in this article.

Some producers are concerned that testing for CL will not distinguish between a goat that has been vaccinated with the CL vaccine and one that is infected with the organism. This is the most specious argument against vaccinating a goat that I've ever heard. A specious argument initially sounds good but doesn't hold up under analysis. Vaccines are made from the substance being vaccinated against and they work by stimulating the goat's immune system to mount a response to a modified and usually "killed" version of that bacteria. A "killed" bacteria cannot infect the goat. Of course the goat is going to test "positive" for CL once it has been vaccinated against the bacteria. A good immune system will mount a vigorous attack against the killed organism and produce antibodies. Responsible producers should want to eradicate a disease via vaccination rather than raising a herd of "naive" (never vaccinated) goats that might contract the disease if they are exposed to it. We eradicated smallpox and polio in this country in the last century by widespread vaccination of the population. That was a good thing. Tests for CL are not 100% accurate; false positives and false negatives are a possibility. Are you as a producer willing to risk the possibility of false positive, false negative, or "borderline" test results just so you can have goats that test "negative" for CL at a single point in time? This is not a responsible way to raise goats. I will decline to sell to producers who are that short sighted.

Some goat raisers misinterpret positive serological tests. For some reason, they think that if a goat is "positive" (possesses antibodies) then it must be a carrier or shedder of the bacteria or is infected or sick with that organism. That isn't true. A positive titer means that the goat's immune system has encountered that organism before, either naturally or by vaccination, and its immune system has either mounted a response against it or it has received passive antibodies from its mother. A "positive" goat may never display clinical signs of CL (abscesses) nor does it have to be contagious to other goats. Exposed does not mean infected. I repeat: "exposed" does not mean "infected." I would much rather own a herd of goats that tests positive because they have been vaccinated to resist CL than a herd of susceptible-to-disease goats that test negative. Remember, a negative test means "negative" at a single point in time, i.e. when the blood was drawn. Like an inspection on a house you are buying, there is no guarantee that the a/c, heating, dishwasher, etc. will be in the same condition beyond that single moment when the test was done. On the other hand, vaccination provides some promise of protection against disease. No vaccine is 100%, and the efficiency of the goat's immune system has much to do with how it processes the benefits that the vaccine provides, but a vaccinated goat is much less likely to develop CL than an unvaccinated goat.

With the new CL vaccine from Texas Vet Lab, some swelling at the injection site can be expected. The knot should be firm (not soft). If it is soft, it could be a knot caused by bacteria on the needle or on the surface of the skin and may need to be drained. Do not inject Formalin into these knots. These knots are called vaccine granulomas and arise as a result of the goat's immune response to the vaccine. The adjuvant (vaccine's carrier) and the antigen (active ingredient) are recognized as foreign bodies by the goat's immune system and an inflammatory response occurs at the injection site. They usually resolve themselves over time and that timeframe is often dependent upon the size of the granuloma. If the goat is going to slaughter, the granuloma will come off with the hide. If the goat is breeding stock and you as a producer want it gone, lance and drain and flush with iodine. It is likely a sterile abscess, staph, or arcanobacterium pyogenes.

When administering the Texas Vet Lab vaccine to protect against Caseous Lymphadenitis, use an 18 gauge needle. Taking the chill of refrigeration off the vaccine by removing the bottle from the refrigerator and leaving it in a climate-controlled environment for a short time increases the syringeability of it. It flows through the syringe more easily and it is less of a shock to the goat's body than the injection of a cold liquid. Make sure to give the vaccine sub-cutaneously (SQ) (under the skin). Vaccinate all non-pregnant and non-lactating goats, including those testing positive for CL and all goats with visible abscesses.

USDA labeling does not permit the claim that the vaccine prevents the disease. No vaccine prevents disease in 100% of the population to which it is targeted. Wording like "aids in the reduction of," "aids in the control of," "aids in the reduction of severity," or "aids in the reduction of infection or shedding" are label requirements. This label wording should not deter you as a responsible producer from using the only CL vaccine available and approved for use with goats.Contact Averil McKnight at Jeffers 1-800-533-3377 to purchase the vaccine; Averil stays current on each state's requirements, and Jeffers has assigned her as the contact person to help goat producers with purchasing this new CL vaccine for goats.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 7/11/12

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