Common Goat Diseases

This list of goat diseases are just base on actual activities and testimonials of different individuals, just some of the most common ones. And it’s important to note that consulting  a veterinarian is a most effective way.

Common Goat Diseases

1. Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE).

What is Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)?CAE is caused by a retrovirus and is relatively new to the world of goats. CAE is now considered one of the greatest threats to all breeds of goats, especially dairy goats, and is transmitted during the neonatal period from an infected mother to the kid through nursing natural colostrum. It is possible that CAE is also transmitted from goat to goat through saliva, nasal secretions, urine, and feces. Symptoms of Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) in goats include:

  • Weakness in rear legs of young goats or kids, causing muscle atrophy and death.
  • Swollen joints, particularly in the knees, of adult goats.

There are two disease syndromes associated with CAE, including the encephalitis form and the arthritic form.

Caprine Encephalitis

The encephalitis form of the CAE virus is usually seen in goat kids 2 – 4 months old. Signs include paralysis, seizures and death.

Caprine Arthritis

The arthritic form of the CAE virus is most common and is seen in adult goats 1 – 2 years old. Signs usually include weight loss, poor hair condition, and enlarged joints, especially in the carpal, hocks, and stifle. Other symptoms during the early onset of the virus include leg lameness. As the disease progresses, goats may show an inability to stand and may walk on their knees.

How to Treat Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) in goats.If you have a goat that is positive for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE), keep it separated from the other healthy goats, and never expose baby goat kids to goats that are CAE-positive.

There are ways to reduce discomfort in goats diagnosed with CAE. Provide regular hoof trimming, constant access to clean, fresh water, and consider using an oral non-steroid anti-inflammatory, such as 10 – 20 mg of aspirin every 8 – 12 hours, or as recommended by your veterinarian. Goats with advanced cases of CAE that are obviously in great discomfort should be humanely euthanized.

How to Prevent Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

Here are some steps you can take to prevent the spread of CAE in goats:

  • Do not allow goat kids to nurse from CAE-positive does.
  • Do not collect colostrum from a mother goat that is positive for CAE. Only feed colostrum from a healthy doe to kids, or feed colostrum supplement if no maternal colostrum is available.
  • Keep goats that are infected with CAE separated from the rest of the herd, keep a close watch on new genetic introductions to keep your herd clean. Perform periodic testing to ensure possible infection is identified early and quarantined

2. Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL). This is a chronic contagious disease affecting mainly sheep and goats This disease is also called pseudotuberculosis or often “abscesses,” and has been referred to as the curse of the goat industry throughout the world.

CL is an infection of goats, caused by pseudo tuberculosis. It is also referred to as “abscesses”, because of the peripheral swelling, rupture, and drainage of pus from affected lymph nodes. The prevalence of CL in the commercial goat herds may be as high as 30%. If abscesses affect more than one lymph node, the carcass will be condemned at slaughter. Decreased body weight and milk production also occurs, and reproductive efficiency is often lower when these animals have developed internal abscesses.

Clinical Signs:

Most commonly, symptoms are palpable enlargements of one or more of the superficial lymph nodes. The morbidity of the infection rate in goat flocks increase with age, and may approach 70%.

The enlarged lymph nodes have a very thick wall and are filled with thick greenish pus. The most common lymph nodes affected are mandibular, prescapular, prefermoral, and supramammary  lymph nodes. Less common is involvement of lymph nodes internally in the chest and abdomen. As the animal gets older, abscesses often develop around the lungs, heart, liver, kidney, and spinal cord. They may cause weight loss, pneumonia, and neuoligical signs.

pseudotuberculosis is spread in the environment by broken and draining external abscesses. The organism survives in the environment for at least one year and can be spread on such items as shearing blades, fences, and feeders. The organism enters the goats body through small breaks in skin or mucous membranes and eventually becomes localized in a regional lymph node.


  • 1. Presence of a firm to slightly soft subcutaneous swelling in the location of a lymph node.
  • 2. Herd history of CL.
  • 3. Culture: aspiration of the swelling and sending it to the diagnostic lab for isolating and identifying the organism.
  • 4. Serology: serologic tests such as bacterial agglutination test and synergistic hemolysis – inhibition test are valuable in identifying goats with early stage of the disease (no abscess yet developing).

Serologic testing may not be accurate due to the presence of antibodies in previously exposed non-diseased or from cross – reactivity of diagnostic antigens with antibodies against other bacteria.


  • 1. Separate and isolate the affective animals.
  • 2. Ripened abscesses lanced and flushed with 7% iodine solution.
  • 3. The pus should be flushed down a drain, or collected and burned.
  • 4. Wear gloves to prevent skin infections in humans.
  • 5. Wash hands well after handling infected animal.
  • 6. Surgical removal of the encapsulated abscess offers the advantages that the treated animals need not be quarantined.
  • 7. antibiotic treatment has not been effective.

Prevention control

  • Quarantine and monitor new animals at lease 60 days.
  • Monitor and cull animals with multiple abscessed lymph nodes
  • Housing free of sharp objects
  • Clean and disinfect feeders and pens regularly.
  • Disinfect equipment like de-horners, scalpel blades, tattoo numbers/letters, castrating instruments and other surgical instruments.
  • Use a new hypodermic needle for each animal.
  • Cull animals with chronic respiratory and wasting disease.
  • Bedding cleaned out regularly.
  • Pus should be collected and burned.

A vaccine is available and should be considered in management of CL in infected herds. Vaccine should be considered if you’re previously described eradication methods haven’t worked or failed.

3. Coccidiosis.  is a common and damaging illness of sheep, goats, and cattle—particularly young lambs, kids, and calves. Producers will benefit from understanding the causes, and especially the prevention, of this illness. Coccidiosis is a disease that causes young animals to be “poor doers,” sometimes permanently. Coccidia are protozoa that cause damage to the animal’s intestinal tract so that food is not absorbed well. Diarrhea is a common symptom, as are poor growth, rough hair coat, a pot-bellied appearance, and loss of appetite. Controlling this parasite will help producers raise healthier animals that grow faster.


To prevent coccidiosis, make every effort to reduce stress on the animals and improve sanitation and living conditions. Dry bedding (replenished often with additional fresh, dry bedding) is helpful. This allows the mothers to lie down on clean places, keeping udders and teats cleaner. This helps reduce mastitis, as well as lowering risk of coccidiosis. Gravel or wood chips added to lots promotes dry areas. Provide shelter if weather is cold and rainy, handle animals calmly, and be aware that as the season progresses, numbers of coccidia are building. Clean water and feed troughs, and disinfect feed troughs if possible, to lessen exposure to cocci. Exposure to small numbers of cocci is actually beneficial, as it encourages the building of immunity.

Symptoms and Effects

Probably the first sign of a problem with coccidiosis is diarrhea: hindquarters and tails may be coated with manure. Along with that, animals may show decreased appetite, listlessness, weakness, and abdominal pain (shown by crying or frequent repeated standing and lying). If the infection is not overwhelming, they may be sick for a couple of weeks and then get better. If the animals have been suddenly exposed to a large dose of coccidia and have no immunity, they may quickly dehydrate and die.

Although mortalities have a large impact on profitability of a livestock operation, the animals that recover from coccidiosis can experience more subtle and long-lasting effects that are even more costly. These effects include a general unthriftiness (failure to thrive), poor growth rate, poor milk production, and susceptibility to health problems due to damage to the intestines. To avoid these long-term consequences, producers will need to take preventive management measures to counteract the stressful conditions listed above. In some situations, however, these measures will prove difficult to accomplish. For example, a farm that has been raising young stock intensively for some years may have such a load of parasites that infection is inevitable.


Sick animals should be isolated and treated individually whenever possible to ensure delivery of therapeutic drug levels and to prevent exposure of other animals. However, the efficacy of treatment for clinical coccidiosis has not been demonstrated for any drug, although it is widely accepted that treatment is effective against reinfection and should therefore facilitate recovery.

Most coccidiostats have a depressant effect on the early, first-stage schizonts and are therefore more appropriately used for control instead of treatment. Soluble sulfonamides are commonly administered orally to calves with clinical coccidiosis and are perceived to be more effective than intestinal sulfonamide formulations.

CORID/amproliumis also administered orally to calves, sheep, and goats with clinical coccidiosis. Preventive treatment of healthy exposed animals as a safeguard against additional morbidity is an important consideration when treating individual animals with clinical signs.

4. Pink eye. Exactly what it sounds like, goats can get pink eye too. The same rules as humans apply: keep the sick goat away from the rest of the herd, wash your hands well after handling a goat with pink eye, and treat it.

This bacterial infection is a major cause of abortion in goats. If a doe gets is exposed to Chlamydia, even if she never show actual signs of Chlamydia, the doe will abort the next time she gets pregnant if she is not treated.

This disease usually is acute and tends to spread rapidly. One or both eyes may be affected. It can be spread by flies. Young animals are affected most frequently, but animals of any age are susceptible.

The initial signs are:

  • Intolerance to light
  • Spasmodic winking
  • Tearing

Other possible signs:

  • Discharge from the eye(s)
  • Opaque eye
  • Inflammation of the cornea of the eye
  • Infectious arthritis
  • Mammary gland and uterine infection may also occur simultaneously with keratoconjunctivitis.
  • Appetite may be depressed due the fact the goat can’t see well enough to find their food.
  • Can lead to permanent blindness

The clinical course of this disease varies from a few days to several weeks unless complicated by other diseases.


Give all goats in the herd shots of Oxytetracycline

Also administer a couple drops oxytetracycline directly into the eye as well as giving the injections.

5. Enterotoxemia. This is caused by a bacterial imbalance in the goat’s rumen. It can result from sudden feed changes, overfeeding, sickness, or anything that causes a digestive upset. Enterotoxemia can kill a goat, so make sure to vaccinate your herd against this and have the treatment – CD antitoxin – on hand for emergencies.


Treatment of enterotoxemia may not be successful in severe cases. Many veterinarians treat mild cases with analgesics, probiotics (gels or pastes with “good bacteria), oral electrolyte solutions, and antisera, which is a solution of concentrated antibodies that neutralize the toxins that these bacteria produce. More severe cases may require intravenous fluids, antibiotic therapy, and other types of supportive care, such as supplemental oxygen.


Prevention of enterotoxemia is far more likely to be successful than trying to treat the disease.

6. G6-Sulfatase Deficiency(G6-S, MPSIIID)


G6-Sulfatase deficiency is an inherited metabolic defect that occurs in Nubian goats and related crosses. A mutation in the G6-S gene renders the enzyme incapable of degrading complex  polysaccharides known as heparin-sulfate glycosaminoglycans (HS-GAGs) which then abnormally accumulate in tissues such as central nervous system and viscera. Clinically, affected goats exhibit delayed motor development, growth retardation, and early death. The disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion. Therefore, both sexes are equally affected and two copies of the defective gene must be present for signs of the disorder to be observed. Breeding two carrier goats, which are normal but each possesses a single copy of the mutation, is predicted to produce 25% affected offspring.

7. Sore mouth, aka Orf. This is a contagious viral infection where blisters form in the goats’ mouth and nose. This can be passed to humans so use care and cleanliness when handling! Sore mouth heals in a few weeks, although the scabs from the blisters can be contagious for years.


In mild cases, treatment may not be necessary. Softening ointments may help in more severe cases. It is important to make sure that affected animals are eating and drinking. Soft, palatable feeds may help to keep intake up. Antibiotics may be required if secondary infections are severe. Dairy goats with sores on the udder should be milked last and an antiseptic udder salve applied to control bacterial proliferation until healing occurs.

8. Urinary calculi. Mineral stones can sometimes form in the goat’s urethra. It can occur in males or females, but in males it is a problem. These stones can result from a diet imbalance, so consult with your vet if you experience these in your herd. You may need to adjust your calcium to phosphorus ratio.

Treatment of Urinary Calculi:
As with most other goat issues, prevention is a whole lot easier than trying to cure the problem, but if the problem occurs there are some things you can do although if the problem is not caught early enough these treatments may not work. Even veterinarians have limited success with treatment of Urinary Calculi.

If your goat cannot pass ANY urine, he is completely blocked and the veterinarian should be called immediately. This condition is VERY painful and the goat could die soon from a bladder or urinary tract perforation/or rupture. Most common places for the urinary calculi to deposit are in the sigmoid flexure which is in the body cavity not as previously thought in the penis shaft.

The veterinarian, depending on experience with goats, may try to reroute the urine flow from the penis. I have heard of this being done several ways, but be cautioned this is not to be taken lightly and most have to have constant treatment even after the surgery. Some veterinarians have re-routed the boy to basically become a girl, urinating out the back end. Others have put in a stint that the goat will urinate out of. The stint has to be monitored daily and cleaned regularly.

If your goat is not completely blocked there are several different treatments you can try. Depending on your confidence with treatments of your goats, you can try these yourself or go ahead and call the veterinarian. These treatments are suggestions from goat breeders and in no way guarantee the success of treatment of your animal.

If your animal is at this stage his very life depends on treatment. First, for the pain management, giving an injection of an analgesic will help with pain and swelling.  Next you will need to try one of these methods to see if the breakup of the calculi is possible.


One thought on “Common Goat Diseases

  1. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more
    or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this information for my mission.


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