October 2009 Issue



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Arcanobacterium pyogenes, also known as Actinomyces Pyogenes, is an abcess-causing bacteria commonly found in the muscous membranes of goats where it is kept kept in check until something happens that unleashes its infective capabilities. A. Pyogenes is often the bacteria present in thorn, barbed wire, horn, and other externally-caused injuries that develop into abscesses. But there are other life-threatening infections that A. Pyogenes is responsible for that are not readily recognizable to the producer. A. Pyogenes can cause lung abscesses that develop in conjunction with and secondary to pasteurella pneumonia. It can also cause chronic mastitis, post-kidding uterine infections, liver abscesses, footrot, and weight loss. There are no effective vaccines available against A. Pyogenes in goats or other animals.

A. Pyogenes flourishes in the environment under wet and cool weather conditions. It has a foul odor, flies are excellent transmitters of the bacteria, and high dry temperatures can kill it. It can develop into very large abscesses in locations such as the chest wall and flank. A. Pyogenes abscesses must be cleaned out thoroughly, and if the cause is a thorn or stick, that object must be removed or it will fill again with pus. When lanced, A. Pyogenes abscesses flow like syrup, with a leading and trailing edge, are hot to the touch, are greenish-whitish in color. Unlike Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), A. Pyogenes exudate (pus) can be aspirated from the goat's body with a 16- or 18-gauge needle.

item15Udder abscesses caused by A. Pyogenes are large, nodular, visible from the outside of the udder, and are often mistaken for Caseous Lymphadenitis abscesses. (A culture is required to distinguish the two infections) Photo courtesy of Dr. Sherman. Goat Medicine / Sherman & Smith. At the present time, there is no antibiotic that will kill A. Pyogenes abscesses in the udder, making the animal affected both unproductive and terminal. When accompanying pneumonia, A. Pyogenes is necrotizing, i.e. it causes lung tissue death before the abscess forms.

This bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics, especially the tylosins, the sulfonamides, and the tetracyclines. Occasionally it is responsive to treatment with penicillin, most specifically amoxicillin.

In 2007, some research on the use of the enzyme Relaxase to kill A. Pyogenes was begun. The transfer of DNA is involved in bacterial infections and the use of biophosphates is hoped to be of some use in A. Pyogenes elimination. Until that or other research is completed, the only course now is to treat with penicillin.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto

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All information and photos copyright © Onion Creek Ranch and may not be used without express written permission of Onion Creek Ranch. TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT ™ and TEXMASTER™ are Trademarks of Onion Creek Ranch . All artwork and graphics © DTP, Ink and Onion Creek Ranch.


Tan and white guy is OCR Horatio, mature TMG buck.



Contact Suzanne Gasparotto at
325-344-5775 for prices and availability.

OCR Nathan, mature polled TMG buck, who now lives and works in northern Nebraska.

OCR Nat, Myotonic-sized buck

OCR Chase and OCR Duncan, mature TMG bucks, with OCR Daniel (TMG prospect buck) behind Duncan


Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.