Friday, September 17, 2010

The New Vet and Ginger's Udder

This is a really long post! It tries to describe what we've been trying to clear up for a year. I've kept pretty good notes, but as I look back, the notes probably could have been better.

We've had this problem with Ginger's udder for a long time. Here's a link to the original post.

We tried all sorts of different treatments trying to get rid of the problem. It got worse slowly over the last year.

What Ginger's udder looked like June 2009
Here's what we did at first:

We tried Fura-zone Ointment for a week... no change.
We tried Blu-Kote spray for a week... no change
We tried Colloidal Siver for a week... no change.
We tried Neosporin for a week... no change.
We even tried 7% Iodine for a week.... no change, except udder became really dry.

Some of the other things we have tried are Tinactin and RashBasher in case it was a fungal infection.

We also used Ivomec twice over the past year. Once because we like to use it as a wormer once a year, the other time was just in case the problem Ginger had happened to be mites.

We also tried Penicillin 5cc 2x for the first day, 4 cc each day for the next 4 days for a total of 5 days.... No change

About 2 months ago we decided to try Hibiclens 2x a day for 3 minutes or more each. Maybe this was some sort of surface bacterial infection or a staph infection.

During the same time we used Hibiclens we also used Silvasorb applied after milking. This seemed to help a little bit. 

This photo taken 6 September 2010 shows the scabs. None of the sores ever oozed puss .
We ran out of Silvasorb and switched to RashBasher just in case it might be a fungal infection. Yes, we were grasping straws at this point. Still reading and searching to see what we could find about rashes on a goat's udder. The rash never spread past the outside of her udder on both sides. It never spread to the inside of her legs, never spread to her stomach or any other place on her body. It never spread to between her teats either, although it did get red and dry between her teats. It never spread to any of the other goats. It never completely fit with any description we read on the internet or in the vetting books we have at home. It never completely fit in with the descriptions or suggestions that we received from questions asked on some of the yahoo groups we are on.

Two weeks ago we read an article from Onion Creek Ranch that indicated to clear up their staph infection they had to pull the scabs off to make the meds more effective. We started scraping scabs off while scrubbing with Hibiclens. We read that Scour Halt (spectinomycin) is effective against gram-positive and gram-negative organisms. This seemed to help slightly. But, what was going on with her udder never fit the description of a staph infection any more than it fit in with any of the other descriptions of other infections.

This photo was taken 5 days after pulling the scabs off while washing with the Hibiclens, after milking we applied Scour Halt topically. More improvement, the most we have seen.
We finally found a vet who regularly treats goats and sheep. His practice is 90% horses, but he knows his goats and sheep, which is unusual around here. When he came out he was glad that we had record of what we had tried as well as a few photos of her udder. He went down the list of infections and diseases that might cause something like this, thinking out loud as he went through them. 

It couldn't be sore mouth, she never had sores on her mouth and it didn't spread through the herd. Also, sore mouth (Orf virus) usually clears up on it's own within two months.

It couldn't be sarcoptes mites because the Ivermectin would have cleared it up (we've used it twice over the past year.) And he said it didn't look like mites, either.

It didn't look anything like a fungal infection.

I can't remember the other things he said it just didn't look like. The list of things he came up with was the same as the list of things we had tried to cure, plus a few.

He said it looked like a mild bacterial infection and a severe allergic reaction to something in her environment. He asked if there was anything we had changed before the problem started like bedding. We hadn't. We have changed things over the past year, but not before this started. Since she has no other lesions anywhere on her body. Right now, because of the localized reaction, we are assuming that this is something to do with the udder wash, bedding, or something else we haven't figured out.

He said that he could run a biopsy and see if it was some sort of allergic reaction. It would be expensive ($185)  and he understands that not everyone wants to spend that much on a goat. With everything we had tried and the records we had kept, he wasn't sure what it was. I said maybe I made it worse with everything I had tried. He said he really didn't think so, as long as this has been going on he thought there wasn't a treatment that I had done that would have made it worse. He would have tried many of the same things.

We told him to go ahead and do the biopsy. We really would like to learn more about whatever it is she is dealing with. The cost of the procedure, the farm call, and the Exenel antibiotic was more than what we paid for the goat. But.... we consider this this as 'tuition'.

What next? After the biopsy comes back we will probably end up putting her on some steroids (if it is an allergic reaction to something) and then try to figure out what she is allergic to. Right now the plan is to change nothing except to give her Exenel shots for the next 3 days for the slight bacterial infection and see if that makes any difference. Since the penicillin hadn't done anything, he wants to try Exenel and keep the rest of her life the same. He also said to discontinue the Scour Halt while we are using the Exenel so that we treating the bacterial infection with only one medication.

He said to not change anything else in her environment, feed, or anything else that we do with her. If her condition changes, he wants to be able to pinpoint where the change came from. If we change from Hibiclens to Chlorhexidine and noticed a change we wouldn't know if it was from the cleanser we were using or from the antibiotic. Hibiclens is 4% Chlorhexidine solution and is dyed pink, Chlorhexidine for animals is 2% and dyed blue. We are following his directions even though I would love to use the much less expensive Chlorhexidine.

The rest of the post shows photos of the biopsy procedure:

Everything the vet needs for the procedure is in his truck. He's thankful we have a place to put it all. 

First he is deciding where to take the samples from. He is going to take three tissue samples and send them to Colorado State University for a pathology test. The results should come back sometime next week, while he is at Advanced Training in Georgia. (He is an Army Veterinarian, too.)

Scrubbing up with Chlorhexidine Scrub. He will take three samples: one from the back of her udder near the oldest and largest sore, one from a spot in this photo, and one from the red area between her teats. He was very careful to choose spots that would be good samples as well as be out of the way of our hands when we milk her. Her milk is currently being given to the chickens, which will continue if she is given steroids. She is being milked twice a day. She freshened in March 2009, and we have been milking her through to see how long we can milk her without breeding.
Giving something to numb the areas he will take the samples from.  The injection is really going into her udder, but she kicked just as I was taking the photo so it looks as if it is going into the back of her leg.

Vet2Be holding the bottle that contains a solution to preserve the tissue samples.

Taking the first plug of tissue from the area with the oldest sore.  The tissue plug seemed to be about 1/4" long and about the same size wide. An interesting tool.... he pushed it in, twisted it around to cut the tissue, then very carefully pulled it out and put the sample in the jar.

The three samples are in the lower part of the jar.
Sewing up the spot where he took one of the samples. We will remove the stitches in three weeks. Not too hard, we've removed stitches from our kids for years instead of taking them back to the doctor. It was always less traumatic for them if Hubby took out their stitches instead of sitting in the doctors office.

The samples are at the Colorado State University lab by now. We milked Ginger last night without interfering with the stitches. We'll wait and see what the lab results are. 

I was impressed with how much the vet knew about diseases of goats, about goats in general, and his 'barnside manner.' 

Ginger is in good hands with this vet! 


~Tonia said...

A good goat vet is hard to find glad you have one!
I always had issues with commercial washing and sanitizing products on my goats. So then I looked at what was needed to disinfect(anitbacterial/viral/fungal), soothe and protect. I havent had any more trouble with break outs of any kind since..
I hope you can figure out what is wrong with her and find some relief as it looks uncomfortable at least...!

TJ said...

So what do you use? It sounds like something I would like to try!

Linda said...

Oh it is hard to find a good vet!

Ok, I am going to make a guess and it will be interesting to see what the results show that it is.

My guess is a type of herpes (Goat Pox) it usually appears around the udder and tail and sometimes mouth. But it is not the same as sour mouth. Coleby says that a wash can be used made up of one tablespoon of copper sulfate and one tablespoon of vinegar in about a pint of water. It can be sprayed on... she also says this is most frequently caused by a copper deficiency and even though it should run a 3 week course, it can become almost endemic.

So anyways it will be interesting to see what the results say it is...

TJ said...

Another thing we hadn't thought of. If herpes is what she has, then this would be one of the times that it wasn't caused by copper deficiency. That is one thing we've gotten under control in the past 6 months.

The RashBasher that we used on her has copper as one of the ingredients. No vinegar, though. I'm not sure if it is acidic. I would have to check with a pH strip to see.

Thanks for posting your idea! I'm really grateful to have the experience and thoughts of different people so that if we ever have this come up again, we have some more things to think about.

thebluemoonslight said...

Was this a staph infection TJ? I have had a similar problem with my milking doe.

TJ said...

No, it isn't staph. The lab results said it was a skin allergy. We have yet to find what is causing the allergic reaction. We have changed the solution we clean her with to water, then to reverse osmosis water, and now we are trying hypo allergenic baby wipes.

We'll be drying her off shortly, as soon as the other goats kid, so that nothing will be touching her udder until she kids again next spring.

It has been a frustrating and long process!

Michele said...

Did you ever find a definitive result?? My doe has the SAME issue but hers recedes and then returns. Also, she doesn't have clusters or scabs like your doe...(sigh) It IS frustrating as we are going through all the same meds and treatments that you are!!

you can email me at
if you'd like.
I sure appreciate you sharing this!!

TJ said...

No, we didn't have a definitive answer. What we are guessing is that it was a staph infection that went wild. The vet isn't sure what happened, either, except that the first photos look like they may have been staph infection.