1 Diarrheal diseases are common in newborn kids, as they are in
calves, lambs and piglets. It is the authors impression that these
diseases are continuously present (endemic) in fewer goat herds and the
morbidity, severity and mortality are lower in goats than in newborn
calves, piglets and probably lambs. The most severe diarrheal diseases
are colibacillosis and salmonellosis. In calves, these two are also the
most common whereas less severe, non-specific causes of diarrhea may
predominate in kids. The discussion which follows will pertain mostly
to colibacillosis and salmonellosis; some of what is said will be the
result of extrapolation from calves and sheep and some will be from the
very few reports and experience on goats.
The primary source of infection is feces of infected animals and
transmission is by ingestion. The propensity of young kids to nurse
objects especially just after being bottle fed and their inate
curiosity, often satisfied by mouth, make them easy prey for infection.
All objects which can be contaminated by feces are potential
transmitting agents including bedding, pails, nipples, clothing,
tools, feed, water and the skin of the udder and perineum of the
mother. The organisms are often ingested within minutes after birth.
The more intense the management system and dense the population the
more heavily contaminated the environment becomes.
3 Salmonellosis may have the additional source of infection; that is,
the mother herself may be a latent (inapparent) carrier. In the latter
case shedding the organism is precipitated by the stress of kidding.
Probably most species of the genus Salmonella (S.) are capable of
producing enteric disease in farm animals. S. typhimurium is the most
common of the genus in goats and cattle in the USA but the incidence of
S. dublin infection has increased dramatically in cattle in the Western
United States. S. dublin is much more likely than S. typhimurium to
form a latent carrier state by quietly residing in the lymph nodes and
tonsils of cattle, only to emerge, produce disease and transmit
infection during time of stress such as calving. S. typhimurim is more
likely to subside after initial exposure and to recur only when the
source of infection reappears.
5 Reports of the disease in goats are sparse, therefore the following
generalizations may not be valid. However, S. typhimurium seems to
affect any age goat with a short, fatal course and is highly
contagious. S. dublin may be less contagious and infected goats seem
more apt to recover.
6 Clinical Signs -- The peracute case is found dead without previous
signs and is most frequent in the newlyborn. The acute form has been
reported in 2-4 week old kids with a high morbidity and mortality (32
of 35 animals dying) and in adults over 1 year old. First there is a
profuse, watery, (the fecal consistency may be more like paste or putty
with S. dublin) yellow diarrhea; this is rapidly followed by
depression, rapid dehydration and weakness. Some die in 8-12 hours,
most in 24-48 hours and a few live for a week. The temperature may
reach 106-108 but often returns to normal or subnormal near death.
7 Tissue Changes -- Post mortem findings are often not striking. The
peracute case may have excess fluid in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity
and heart sac (pericardial space); there may be tiny (petecchial)
hemorrhages in various parts of the body especially around the heart,
the middle small intestine may fill with gas, contain some fluid and
have a thin wall.
8 Acute cases will have mild to moderate inflammation (reddening) of
the inner lining (mucosa), and less frequently hemorrhagic enteritis
will be present. The outer surface of the intestine and linings of the
body cavities (serosa) will likely have petechial hemorrhage. The
messenteric lymph nodes are usually enlarged, wet and when cut have a
soft consistency. In animals that live longer, the liver will appear
enlarged, have rounded edges and often the gall bladder is full. Only
rarely will the intestinal mucosa show varying degrees of erosion or
ulceration. Increased volume of amber joint fluid with or without white
fibrinous clots or casts are not an uncommon finding in the joints of
longer lasting acute cases.
9 Diagnosis -- Signs will mimic colibacillosis, coccidiosis, certain
parasite infestations and enterotoxemia; tissue changes are also
nonspecific. It is important to conduct a necropsy examination on the
first as well as all animals dying. It is equally important to attempt
isolating the causative organism at least from the intestinal
contents, the messenteric lymph nodes and the liver. A diagnosis of
Salmonellosis is important because it will indicate the need to
concentrate more on prevention than on drug therapy. However most
laboratories will not be able to type the species of Salmonella that
was isolated. It is important that this be done, however, and for this
purpose the isolate can be sent to the National Animal Disease Center
in Ames, Iowa via your regional Federal Veterinarian's Office.
10 Prevention and Treatment -- The few reports of Salmonellosis in
goats have been very discouraging regarding prevention and treatment.
However, the strict management practices employed in well run cow
dairies should always be followed and should help keep Salmonellosis at
a low level.
11 Prevention and fluid therapy will be discussed as a separate
section because it applies to all enteric and many other diseases.
Management practices that prevent or reduce the amount of exposure to
Salmonella sp. is the only real hope of control for an endemic herd.
The following treatment recommendations are made with the reservation
that they are often not successful.
12 Chloramphenicol is a drug that is not cleared for use in goats and
should only be given under veterinary prescription. It is inactivated
by a functioning rumen and should therefore not be given orally to the
kid that has started to eat roughage in any significant quantity.
However, it is often the only drug to which the organism is sensitive.
Trimethoprim-sulfadoxine combinations and nitrofurans have been
successfully used in calves and systemic Salmonellosis will sometimes
respond to ampicillin.
13 Dehydration and acidosis should be combated with oral, intravenous
or subcutaneous administration of fluids, electrolytes and energy as
will be discussed later.
The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) has several serotypes,
most of which are normal nonpathogenic inhabitants of the
gastro-intestinal tract. There are pathogenic serotypes, however; some
of these are capable of gaining entrance to the body (septicemic form)
through the intestinal wall, others remain in the intestinal tract and
liberate a toxin which is absorbed by the body and causes generalized
disease and diarrhea (enterotoxogenic form). A milder enteric form,
without signs of toxemia but causing diarrhea, is a third and
intermediate form. Colibacillosis is a disease of very young animals
usually 2-10 days old.
15 Clinical Signs -- The septicemic form usually occurs in the first 4
days of life and when there has been no absorption of colostral
antibodies. The animal is depressed, weak, anorectic (won't eat), the
temperature is elevated early but drops below normal when the animal
becomes weak and goes down. Diarrhea is not common. Death usually
occurs in 2 days. Animals surviving for a week may show signs of the
organism localizing in the joints, brain, eyes or lungs. The septicemic
form is the most common form in lambs and is usually peracute. The
same may be true in kids. ++++MISSING DATA++++
16 The most important factor in determining an animal's ability to
survive colibacillosis is the serum immunoglobulin level before the
animal develops the disease. Antibiotic therapy may help animals with
marginal to adequate serum antibody levels but are probably of no value
in helping the agammaglobulinemic (no immunoglobulin in the serum)
17 Prevention of Colibacillosis and Salmonellosis
Newborn ruminants are born with antibodies against various disease
producing microorganisms (germs). These antibodies are proteins called
immunoglobins. A newborn kid receives all of its protection
(immunoglobulins) against germs as a result of drinking the colostrum
milk produced by its mother. Milk of the very first milking contains
many times more antibodies than does that of the second and later
milkings. Further the intestinal tracts of the newborn can absorb the
antibodies at maximum rate only during the first 12 hours of life;
absorption decreases rapidly from 12 to 36 hours after which time no
more are taken into the blood stream. In addition to these circulating
antibodies there is another type (local antibodies) that attach to the
surface of the intestinal tract, are never taken into the blood stream
and do a certain amount of bacterial neutralization from this
18 Thus, colostrum is the first essential nutrient of the newborn.
Without it, death of the newborn can be assumed. As a rule of thumb,
one ounce of first milking colostrum per pound body weight (of the
kid) should be received by that kid in the first 8-12 hours of life.
Ideally this would be given in small quantities frequently. Removing
the kid from the mother immediately after kidding has two advantages.
First the udder can be cleaned prior to milking (this should be done
even if one insists on letting the kid nurse) and the kid is removed
from the relatively early heavy exposure to pathogens. Second, by
feeding with a bottle, one will know how much colostrum is taken by the
kid and can force feed the amount not voluntarily consumed. During the
kidding season, extra first milking co lostrum can be frozen in ice
cube trays, transferred to plastic bags for storage and dispensed,
thawed and fed as needed. Measure the size of your cubes. They are
probably 2/3 to 1 ounce each.
19 Housing is probably the next most important consideration in the
prevention of enteric diseases of the newborn. Much of what will be
suggested may be impractical or at least not cost effective under
ordinary circumstances when there is no problem. However, if an enteric
problem becomes endemic in a herd, some or all of these measures may
need to be taken regardless of inconvenience.
20 Before proceeding, however, two observations are worth stating.
Many times with any adverse change in the health status of a herd or
individual (not limited to enteric problems) a manager will hesitate
or even refuse to make recommended changes on the grounds that the
management system has not changed ''for years'' so the system could
not be contributory to the sudden problem now being faced. One can
often and for a long time get by with slightly less than optimum down
to even poor management practices. For reasons that often cannot be
explained even by the veterinarian, a variety of subtle adverse factors
will accumulate and finally culminate in an epizootic of worrysome to
severe proportions. This will usually not be corrected by one step of
managerial improvement, rather drastic measures are usually required to
reestablish optimum health.
21 The second observation is especially applicable to enteric diseases
but applies to all areas of health maintenance. One optimal management
has achieved good health maintenance, there is a strong tendency to
relax, take short cuts and save money. This will result in a recurrence
to suboptimum health of the herd. Once can only hope that this change
is dramatic enough to be noticed and corrected. Unhappily the dramatic
change is often preceeded by a prolonged period of gradually
diminishing growth rate of kids as well as decreased reproductive and
productive capacity of the adults.
22 Kids should be removed from their mothers to a well cleaned, dry
pen, free from drafts. Newborn kids should have access to the warmth of
a heat lamp in cold weather (however, if the barn is closed and
heated, respiratory problems will likely develop). Crowding should be
avoided; ideally with no direct contact with others. The kid pens
should be separate from the adult herd. Ideally different personnel
would be in charge of kid care than those attending older and adult
animals. An alternative would be to care for the unweaned kids, then
the weaned kids, then milk and care for the adults.
23 After weaning the kids, pens should be cleaned thoroughly by
scraping, then detergent and water, then disinfectant. The pens should
be allowed to dry, sprinkled with lime and left idle 2-4 weeks.
24 Feeders and waterers should be constructed so as to always prevent
their fecal contamination.
25 Fluid and Electrolyte Therapy -- Much of the body's fluid and
electrolytes (minerals and other circulating chemicals necessary for
normal body function) are lost via the feces (manure or stool) when an
individual has diarrhea. When this loss occurs at a rate that exceeds
the replacement rate by the milk or milk replacer, a condition referred
to as ++++MISSING DATA++++
26 The kid with 8 0ehydration is obviously depressed and eyes appear
sunken. This can occur within 12 hours of the time the appetite ceases.
Dehydration can preceed clinical diarrhea because the fluid and
electrolytes will have been leaving the body and going into the
intestinal tract (not considered part of the body) during the 6 to 12
hour period prior to clinical diarrhea. The 8 0ehydrated animal
should receive 150 ml intravenously over an hour and an additional 300
ml subcutaneously of Ringers bicarbonate with double the concentration
of KC1, NaHCO3 and Dextrose listed above.
27 The 10 0ehydrated kid is usually down but can be made to stand and
his legs are colder than the rest of his body. The 12 0ehydration
animals is flat on his side, unable to stand. The prognosis with this
severe dehydration is rather poor. The fluid therapy is conducted at
the same rate but for longer periods until desirable hydration is
28 When following any treatment, check the animal in four to six hours
and repeat fluid therapy according to the degree of hydration at the
29 After two days of oral electrolyte therapy without milk or milk
replacer, the latter is gradually reintroduced into the diet by 1/4 milk
and 3/4 electrolyte for 1 feeding, 1/2-1/2 for 2 feedings and 3/4 and
1/4 for one more feeding. It may take a couple of days for the diarrhea
30 If antibiotic therapy is not effective in 3 days, it is not going
to be. Body temperature, alertness and perhaps appetite will be better
indicators of response to antibiotic therapy than will cessation of
diarrhea. The latter may not stop until after oral fluid therapy is
discontinued. In all cases antibiotics should be used at least two days;
if there is a positive response, use for 3 days.