Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) is a contagious bacterial infection affecting goats (and sheep).  The organism corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infects the animal through wounds caused by head butting, punctures, and shearing, as well as oral ingestion of the pus (exudate) from a ruptured abscess.  The lymph system filters the bacteria from the goat's body and puts it into a thick-walled (encapsulated)  abscess outside its body so that it can't harm the goat.  Visible abscesses usually don't appear for months after infection.  CL abscesses are  seldom seen in young goats because the  immune system  isn't fully functional until the animal nears  one year of age;  the lymph glands can't filter something that an  immature immune system hasn't recognized.   For the same reason, blood testing for CL  can be inaccurate in goats under about eight months of age.  Although I've helped many goat raisers with  CL in their herds,  I've  personally never seen CL abscesses on a meat goat under six  months of age.   Unlike CAE and Johnes,  CL is not transmitted through milk, saliva, semen, or other bodily fluids.

CL is not the disease equivalent of CAE or Johnes.  Too many people classify these three diseases as equals.  They are not.  CL is manageable and we have a vaccine made by Texas Vet Lab in San Angelo, Texas  for it.  I know of nothing  available to manage CAE or Johnes.   Goats with CAE or Johnes should  be culled and  go to slaughter.   Not so with CL.   People become irrational when they see an  abscess, often assuming every abscess is CL.  That isn't true.   There are many kinds of abscesses.     The presence of external abscesses doesn't mean that the goat has internal abscesses.   This is  seldom true  in goats  but is  common in sheep.   When a CL abscess is mature and ready to lance, it is attached to the inside of the hide  rather than the goat's body. I have detailed articles on how to handle a CL abscess.   I no longer recommend injecting Formalin because people don't use it correctly.   Lancing the abscess, removing  the pus, having the pus tested to determine the bacteria involved  (Bob Glass, Pan American Vet Lab, 1-800-856-9655), flushing with iodine, and vaccinating with the Texas Vet Lab  vaccine for CL in goats is the best protocol.  Regular use of this CL vaccine for goats tends to reduce recurrence of abscesses, i.e. it performs a "curative" function.

CL is much more likely to be spread among goats kept in close quarters  and  over-crowded conditions.  All breeds of goats can catch CL.    Vectors for spreading the bacteria include insects, birds, wild animals, domestic pets,  needles, eartaggers, scissors, feed troughs (especially wood troughs),  clippers, shoes, and clothing.    Always use a disinfecting mat for visitors'  footwear.   Jeffers sells a disinfecting mat  (item #WEBAPDA) and  disinfecting liquid  for use with this mat.   No one knows how long pus from ruptured abscesses can survive  in hay, soil, and equipment, but we do know that hot  and dry weather kills the bacteria faster than wet and  cold.   The disease is not painful to the goat but is an management nuisance to goat raisers.  Although considered "incurable,"  CL is readily managed.

In May 2012, Texas Vet Lab of San Angelo, Texas announced US Government approval of its new vaccine to protect goats against CL.   My herd was one of three that participated  in the vaccine's field trials in summer 2011, the results of which were submitted to USDA for  approval.   Texas Vet Lab then  sent it licensing information to all 50 state vets in the USA, and the terms under which it can be used in each state is on its website www.texasvetlab.com under the link "CL State Approval List." Jeffers, the livestock mail order company,  carries the vaccine and is the best place to buy it.   Call Jeffers at 1-800-533-3377 or go to www.jefferslivestock.com.    The CaseBac vaccine for sheep by Colorado Serum is not effective with goats.

The vaccine is not approved for use on pregnant or lactating does or kids under three months of age (or with sheep).   That doesn't mean it is unsafe; it  means that testing was not done on these groups of animals.   I  do not use this vaccine on pregnant does because they don't need any added stress and I don't use it on goats under eight months of age because of their immature  immune systems.    I give this vaccine alone and never in conjunction with other vaccines in order to minimize reactions.  It is an extremely effective vaccine which should be used on all goats, even if they have been diagnosed with CL, but it has short-term side effects that can be minimized by careful  administration.  At GoatCamp2017(tm) at Onion Creek Ranch in October 2017, Dale Weise of Texas Vet Lab  reported that TVL is working on an improved version of this vaccine that will minimize its side effects.   It must go through testing and submitted to the US Government, so I suspect it will be a couple of years before it is available to producers.

My article entitled "Caseous Lymphadenitis: Misconceptions About the Disease and the CL Vaccine" revised November  2017   explains how I  use this vaccine and why.  The CL vaccine must be kept refrigerated; it is   sensitive to temperature changes.  Do not allow it to freeze or get hot.  Shake before each use.  If the bottom of the bottle is brown, throw it away.   Normal liquid separation occurs at the top of the bottle.

As a long-time goat producer, I am grateful that Jim Bob Harris, owner of Texas Vet Lab, chose to develop this much needed vaccine for a species that is few in number and therefore not a big profit center.  Diligent use of this vaccine by goat raisers can definitely control and significantly eliminate this disease in goats in a relatively short timeframe.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas   11/2/17

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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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