September 2021 Issue



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Texas Vet Lab's vaccine to prevent CL in goats is no longer on the market as of June 1, 2021.  The company chose not to renew its license on May 31, 2021  because  goat raisers were not buying enough vaccine  to justify  producing it.   So where do we goat raisers go from here?

Goat raisers are back to where we were prior to 2012.  We have no vaccine for CL in goats.  The CL vaccine  for use with sheep  does not prevent CL in goats and its manufacturer, Colorado Serum, recommends against its usage with goats.

Caseous Lymphadenitis is a contagious bacterial infection that appears at lymph gland sites as abscesses. Not all abscesses are CL, but those appearing at typical CL sites (often but not always under the ear)  should be considered suspect and investigated. Because the bacteria Corynebacterium Pseudotuberculosis is resistant to all antibiotics   whether systemically injected into the goat or directly placed into the abscess, Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) should be considered neither curable nor completely preventable at this time. This article offers an effective alternative method for managing and controlling it.

CL   is   a  management and nuisance disease.       Unlike Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis (CAE) and Johnes Disease, CL does not damage the health of or kill the goat except in very rare instances like abscesses in udders.   Quality goats do not  have to be culled or euthanized.    CL is easily  manageable.

If you buy and sell goats or have any significant number of them, you are likely to encounter CL.    Transmission vectors (ways to spred the disease) can be insects, birds,  animals,  tires, clothing,  footwear, and a host of other ways   over which you have limited  control.

Prepare yourself in advance on how to manage and control CL.

Decades ago on ChevonTalk, the meat goat list serv which I set up in November 1998  (now on,  Dr. Rosemarie Szostak   recounted how she gained control over Caseous Lymphadenitis in her herd.    Dr. Szostak,   a PhD in chemistry and  goat owner, injected 10%  Formalin into abscesses testing positive for CL.   Classified as a disinfectant, Formalin  is a 10% buffered solution of formaldehyde.  Working with goat owners who had CL problems in their herds, I found that 10% buffered Formalin worked well.    I  suggested    its usage before the Texas Vet Lab vaccine was available, and I would use it again   now that the vaccine is no longer available.   While Formalin usage will not cure CL    (nothing will, at present), it does provide an effective management and control alternative,  if used properly.

The only time to deal with  the abscess  is when the hair  has begun to come off and the knot is  soft.    To goat raisers inexperienced with CL, this may seem to  occur in differing timeframes in individual goats.  Some CL abscesses seem to appear almost overnight   (they  don't appear "overnight"  -- you just missed seeing it), but rather the lymph system filters this thick pus very slowly, taking weeks   to develop from a lumpy   mass into a roundish abscess. Some abscesses encapsulate into several knots, while others become a single mass. Pregnant does are a special problem, because you  don't want newborn kids exposed to the CL bacteria. If you own many goats, then you will have difficulty trying to isolate every infected goat, while watching and waiting for that 'right time' to deal with  the abscess.

Note: I am NOT a veterinarian and the usage of Formalin in any percentage strength  is NOT approved for this specific purpose.    Like  most   of what we  have to use with goats, this is an off-label/extra-label usage.   You may find difficulty  locating and purchasing this product.    Check with your veterinarian.  Specimens are put into Formalin to store  for testing, so a veterinarian should have 10% buffered  Formalin.  If you are unable to obtain 10% Formalin (do  NOT  use higher concentrations above 10% Formalin), an alternative is to lance the mature (soft) abscess and squeeze out the pus, then flush with   7%  iodine or  equivalent.

CL abscesses encapsulate; they create a thick wall around the exudate (pus), isolating the infected material from the rest of the goat's body. Systemic injections of antibiotics are unsuccessful because  medication cannot  get through those thick walls. If properly injected into the abscess, Formalin  is highly unlikely  to  migrate to any other part of the goat's body.  When the goat is slaughtered and the hide is removed, subcutaneous (under-the-skin) abscesses peel off with the hide. Internal organs that are susceptible to abscesses, such as udders and lungs, go into the offals (trash) bucket as parts of the goat that are not eaten. Abscesses are  visible in the organs of slaughtered goats, making them easy to recognize and discard.

Formalin is NOT   the solution for abscesses that are caused by bacteria other than Caseous Lymphadenitis.   Most abscesses need to be lanced,drained, and flushed with iodine.  Arcanobacterium pyogenes, for example, is usually caused by sharp objects like thorns or  hay stems,  and until those objects are removed, the abscess will continue to fill with fluid as the object irritates the tissues.   If you don't know for sure what bacteria is present,  do NOT inject Formalin into it.

The first step is to determine if the abscess is really CL. There are many types of abscesses. Contact Bob Glass  at Pan American Vet Lab in Texas for testing. Bob has developed an inexpensive test that will determine what bacteria is contained within the exudate (pus). You can reach Bob Glass at or call him at 512-964-3927.  Bob will tell you how to collect pus and ship it to him for testing.  Blood tests can produce false positives; testing the pus is the only accurate way to identify the bacteria.

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