Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Karin Christensen's helpful emails

This post is the emails that Karin and I sent back and forth so she could help us diagnose and figure out what is wrong with Buddy.
He is being dam raised, he is 8 weeks old tomorrow. Even though we are pulling the other kids at night to start to wean them, we are not taking this kid from his dam at all. All the animals have been treated for coccidia at this point because the vet said it is best to treat everyone so it doesn't go from one animal to another. They are now on the 1/2 dose in their water that is recommended as maintenance for 21 days.

We did clean everything, and it is dry where we live (intermountain west--pretty much desert). And you are right, we don't really have problems with worms, the vet is just trying to figure out how to get the little guy healthy again. He pretty much just sits around and can't stand up well--he falls down alot again.

He had polioencepholamacia about a month ago--the vitamin B shots are what made the coccidia bloom (since they love vitamin B!). So we treated for the goat polio, and he got a bit better. Then he got worse--we found out it was because of the coccidia.

The vet also said that he probably has some damage to his digestive tract that will need to heal--we're just trying to figure out how to get him healthy as quickly as we can. He's a good little kid!

He also gets some ProBios gel everyday to help his rumen keep working.

Since our vet isn't really a goat vet, but is willing to work with us, I really wanted some internet opinions from people who deal with goats everyday.

Thanks again for your reply. I'll hold off on the worming for a while.
If there is anything else you think I should be doing, I would really appreciate it.

I'd want to know the CAE status of the dam. Goat polio in a young (month old ?) kid would be very unlikely. However, encephalitis from CAE can happen in kids around that age and from the neurological symptoms you are describing I would consider this a high possibility. It can linger for some time before they die from it. The symptoms are similar to goat polio.

Selenium deficiency is another possibility but it sounds like the other kids are not affected so is less likely.

Coccidia will not bloom from B vitamin injections. It sounds more like the kid has a very weakened immune system which is allowing the coccidia to flourish.

Probios does not do anything for the rumen. It only supplies friendly intestinal bacteria which won't hurt given the serious coccidia infection. Is the kid eating anything else besides milk?

Karin Christensen

Hi Karin,

Thank you for your email. The dam tested CAE neg in the fall. He was about 6 weeks when he started with the polio. We never thought of CAE at that young age. It may be a possibility since I have heard that even a CAE neg herd will have kids that test positive from time to time. I didn't know that the symptoms for CAE in kids and goat polio were so similar. That is good to know.

No, none of the other kids are affected. Not even a hint of anything like this, so I'm not sure about the Se deficiency. Although we did buy some Bo-Se gel and gave the buckling some last night. The dose was 2cc (as the Goat Wisdom site suggests (http:// board=references&action=display&thread=1354).

If the kids immune system was weakened already, and the coccidia was present (everything I've read says that coccidia is always present), the thiamine would encourage the coccidia to reproduce at a higher rate. There are a few papers that my husband found and read. I listed one of them on the GoatBiology group. We had no idea that coccidia was thiamine dependent. It makes perfect sense why Corid would be bad for goats (or chickens or other animals) that need thiamine.

Yes, the kid eats grass/alfalfa hay mix (from the supplier that supplies to the horse people) and grazes on the pasture besides drinking milk.

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate your wisdom, advice, and experience. I admire all the research you do and I am thankful that you are willing to share it with newbies like us. You are always so kind in your replies, too. I may feel helpless at times, but people like you who are not judgmental, keep more goats healthy than you know. You are a gift! You encourage us to do research on our own, ask questions when we have problems (if someone was telling me continually that I was stupid, I would stop asking questions!), and hopefully in the future, I will be able help others when they need it.

I am glad to know about the CAE and goat polio symptoms. If I can get someone to draw blood on the kid, I will have it sent for testing. I haven't done that yet and I don't know any goat owners in the area that even know about CAE, let alone test for it. If I had known the symptoms were so similar last week, I would have taken a sample from the vet and sent it out for testing.

Thanks again. All the information has been very helpful. I think my brain is beginning to ache :o) Guess that is a good thing! And my son, who wants to be a ruminant and camelid vet, is learning so much. It seems that no matter how hard we try to do everything right, our farm gets 'hit' with all sorts of problems. We've come to the conclusion that it is because he needs an education before he gets into vet school. He is getting it, so am I.

It won't do much good to test the kid. If mom has become positive he will have her antibodies. It is also known that if the goat is having serious symtoms from CAE they may test negative even if they have the virus. It's not known why.

Was the kid disbudded? If so, I'd consider the possibility of a brain abscess. Polio in a young nursing kid just never happens. If he dies see if you can have a necropsy done. This will give you good information that you can apply to your whole herd.

And, thanks for the very kind comments.



I didn't know that they could test negative if they had the CAE virus. Am I ever going to get to the point where I know what is going on?! We'll test the adults again for CAE.

Yes, he was disbudded. How would we know that he had a brain abscess? Are there other symptoms to look for? We've never had problems with disbudding before this year--we had two other kids that had some infections that we are in the process of clearing up. The kid in question was born two weeks earlier than all the rest and didn't have any infections after the disbudding, at least not on the outside.

He was born on March 18th, disbudded on March 23rd. We first noticed that something was wrong with his leg on April 24th. We thought that he had been playing and gotten a little sore and that's why his leg was stiff. We separated him and his dam from the herd so he could heal without running around. We noticed that the symptoms spread to his other leg on April 26th. The symptoms pointed to goat polio--but there was no information in our books or on the internet that said they don't get it if they are dam raised, all the other indications were that he might have goat polio so we treated for that. He was much better in about 3 days after the vitamin B shots and the penicillin. He was better (but still a little wobbly) until May 10th. That day he had the same symptoms as he did at his worst. We were able to find a vet that doesn't mind looking at goats. He is about an hour away. He was the one who did the fecal as well as ran a blood test.

The blood test said that the white blood cell count was extremely high (so he had the kid start on penicillin again, 2 cc sub q or IM 2x daily for 5 days) and the red blood cell count was extremely low. He said that usually indicates a large parasite load and he did a fecal test. He found the coccidia was high enough that he told my son that when you see that much coccidia, you just say, "Oh, h---" and treat it. He didn't see any other worm load at that time. Since he hasn't seen a goat with a large coccidia load, he recommended the Corid. I'm sure he had no idea that we shouldn't use it in goats.

Good to know about the Polio. I guess he must never have had it, then. I guess the only thing we can be sure of at this point is that he had a bad case of coccidia because the vet did see that in the

I have a call into the vet to find out if he has any Albon, Sulmet, or Di-methox on hand. If he doesn't, we'll be waiting for Jeffer's to deliver. I can't believe that none of the feed stores have any of those medications on hand. That was weird to me. It sounds like coccidia is something that pops up from time to time, maybe even do a preventative dose in kids.

So, when you have goat kids, do you just treat them with a preventative when they reach a certain age? If you do, what do you use, what dosages do you give, and how long do you treat them for? We've got Saanens and a Nubian. The little kid in question is a Snubian. My son really wants a snubian doeling to see how much milk they give.

If he dies, we will have a necropsy done. We hope he doesn't die, but my son's 4-H leader said that, "If you have livestock, sooner or later you are going to have dead-stock." She didn't say it to be mean, just to let us know that if we lost an animal, that is part of raising livestock. Anything we can learn means that we are able to ID problems better in the future. Hopefully all this training will help my son when he becomes a vet. Although I love working with the goats,
his is his dream and I am trying to do the best I can to support, help, learn, and teach him. I don't know if I am doing a very good job. But he sees me spend hours a day with him, the goats, books, and searching the internet for the 'right' way to do things.

Thanks again for the information. My son said thanks, too.

Given the high white count and the neurological symptoms I'd say that he has some type of encephalitis. They call this meningoencephalitis due to the area of brain that is usually affected in kids. This can be an infiltration of bacteria from the naval, or the kid did not get enough colostrum so it didn't get enough passive immunity, or it could be from lesions and abscess from disbudding. You would not see any infection from the disbudding on the surface.

Encephalitis from CAE will usually affect the hind legs first like you are seeing. But, since the dam was negative that isn't high on the list, now. Also, the white count usually isn't sky high, but may be only slightly high or high but within normal range.

The antibiotics are probably what helped him feel better for awhile. You don't mention if he had a fever at any time. About the only sure way to diagnose brain abscess is with a necropsy, unfortunately. High doses of antibiotics that cross the blood brain barrier such as penicillin may help, but according to Smith and Sherman's, Goat Medicine, prognosis is guarded. If he were mine, I'd go ahead and hit him with penicillin at least twice the recommended amount and continue for 5 days. At this point if he is going downhill it can't hurt. Super high white counts mean bacterial infection.

The coccidia is probably going on along with it not the cause of it. I'm not sure but the high white count could be due to coccidia, but not the neurological signs.

Young kids on milk usually do not get polio because this is a problem caused by the rumen bacteria. Certain types overgrow usually after a sudden change to a higher plane of nutrition and produce an anti-thiamine enzyme. The rumen in young kids is not developed enough to have this type of overgrowth. Given the good diet your goats are on also would not usually lead to polio. Milk has enough B vitamins for kids.

I always keep sulfadimethoxine on hand. It's one of those things you need but can't get quickly. Some feed stores will carry a pouch of the powdered version which works, too. Mixing it up is a bit complicated then you have a bunch that you never use again. You can get a bottle of 40% liquid which I mix with some sort of fruit juice. The kids do not mind it all. I do not use any prevention for coccidia, I rarely have problems. I live in a dry area and even when the pens are not as clean as they should be I rarely have a kid with diarrhea. If one develops diarrhea I treat with the sulfa drug. The sulfa will also treat any bad intestinal bacterial overgrowth as well.

I wish I could send you flowers or something.

We'll get him on another round of penicillin. We will have sulfa on hand from now on. My husband is a chemist, he does calculations extremely well, so I'm not worried about the powder (which is what he ordered). I'll let him know that it will be not last after he mixes it up. He has some extremely accurate scales in the lab, he may be able to cut down on the amount he mixes up so we don't have to throw so much away.

No, he didn't have a fever. I forgot to mention that. We live in a dry area, too. I guess that is why we haven't had any problems with coccidia before. He didn't have scours, either, which threw us off the coccidia trail at the very beginning. Looking back on it, we did clean the stalls a few days before his symptoms appeared. We also wormed his dam with Safeguard about the same time. The stalls weren't terrible since we have a beautiful horse barn with 12x12 stalls (courtesy of the last owners). And the stalls had been cleaned out 2 weeks before we started kidding. The stalls have the special horse mats with layers of lyme, gravel, and sand underneath, so they stay drier than if we had a dirt floor. We use straw as bedding since we had trouble with shavings one time (everyone got scours from the shavings--probably just a bad batch of shavings).

We were thinking about neurological signs and the only thing we could come up with was, maybe it wasn't neurological--maybe the coccidia was making him weak and it just started in his hind end? I don't know, it sure looked like he had a stiff leg, not a weak leg at the beginning. Now he just acts wobbly and weak again. He does eat if we put hay in front of him. I know he is nursing still because the dam is empty on one side, but full on the other. She is one that is usually fairly even.

We found another vet about noon who has some Albon (pill) that he was willing to sell us. He was very nice and said that he has good success with Albon. Maybe we will switch vets, after all. The other one wasn't too thrilled when I asked for something besides Corid this morning.

Great idea to mix meds with fruit juice. I love that! I will remember that one for anytime we have to drench someone :o)

Really, I appreciate everything. Two people that I really trust on the internet--you and Willie Boepple, have always been very kind in your responses. Thank you for taking so much time out of your day to help us. Your advice and help has been invaluable.

And we love your CD, that was the first reference 'thing' I bought when my son started his goat adventure. I've recommended it to others when they start with goats. I'm not sure if they purchased one or not, but I am very glad that we have one.
Thanks again.

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