Dealing With CL in Goats

"Caseous Lymphadenitis or CL is a highly contagious bacterial disease that affects sheep and goats. CL is characterized by abscess formations in the skin, internal and external lymph nodes, and internal organs. CL is a worldwide chronic disease in goats and sheep; however, some animals within a herd appear to be very resistant to this disease."

There is a new policy at the Dewart Livestock Auction, we can't go into the pens to check the goats anymore.

So the inevitable happened.

The first usual indication of CL infection is the presence of an external abscess visible behind the ears, beneath the jaw or neck, on the shoulder, or in the rear flank region. They may also develop between the hind legs where scrotal sac or udder attaches. Internal abscesses are detectable only through necropsy (examination after the animal is dead). Unfortunately, it is the internal abscesses that are fatal, whereas external abscesses are the ones generally responsible for disease transmission. Sheep are more prone to internal abscesses and goats are more prone to external abscesses. If an animal is experiencing chronic weight loss, it may be carrying internal CL abscesses on vital organs.

This week I bought a goat with CL.  I couldn't see it, her ear covered it until we got close.

We've had CL on the farm before.  I bought goats from a local, reputable, goat farmer, and they all had it.  He said he knew, but didn't' mention it because to him it's not a big deal.

It's a big deal for me.

But not a deal breaker.  I could resell Jane, shown above, but I like her.

Trying to be open minded about this subject, the only legitimate reason I could see for the injection of formalin into a CL abscess would be to stop the prospect of an abscess rupturing on my property. That is, until I could properly dispose of the goat. It's my understanding, that in some countries outside of the United States, caseous lymphadenitis is viewed with no more concern than the common cold. But, here in the land of unlimited pharmaceuticals -- we can fret. Therefore, we do

She's not in with the other goats for now - she's in a dog kennel.  We (by "We" - I definitely mean Dan) cut the spot open (in a location on the farm where non of our animals graze), drained it and cleaned it with peroxide, then with iodine.  In the past when we have done this, it has only come back in one goat.  I do think it effects them internally, and I suspect that Jane will not live as long or be as healthy as some of our other goats.  But she should be ok. She can have babies.  She should not infect the others (as long as there is no return of any seepage).

Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis causes CL. Goats and sheep can be infected by direct contact with this microorganism. The CL bacteria can be found in the soil of contaminated pens and pastures on feed and water troughs, and in shelters and other congregation points. The source of contamination is usually an abscess that has ruptured and drained onto various surfaces. Direct contact with a ruptured abscess by herd-mates will also spread the infectious bacteria from animal to animal. Animals can acquire infection orally when ingesting contaminated feed or grass. Upon infection, C. pseudotuberculosis will multiply and spread throughout the body via the bloodstream. Subsequently, lymph nodes and internal organs including the lungs, kidney and liver become infected and develop abscesses. The spinal cord can also develop CL abscesses. Once infected the animal is considered to be a carrier for life.

There's so much online, and every goat farmer tends to view CL differently.  We do not plan to return to herds of 40 goats - I'm only going to keep around 8-10 nannies here.  So each one I pick has to be one I REALLY like.  Since Emma looks just like Jane, it is possible I will sell Jane later.  But not until I am sure she is healed up from this abscess at least..  She is not coughing, but there is no way for me to know if she already has internal abscesses at this time.

CL is easily spread throughout a healthy herd by the abcess bursting externally, or by internal abcesses bursting and being spread by coughing. It is unknown by this author whether or not CL can be spread by sharing the same feeder area (dependent upon the goat coughing or not).

Note 3: Personally I'm not rabid about culling these animals as long as they appear healthy and are productive and you are willing to take the risk they pose to your control/eradication efforts. There is no reason the majority of them can't go ahead and lead a productive life. BUT if there is an animal in this group that you have second thoughts about for some reason, then use this as an excuse to cull them. Always cull animals with chronic weight loss - not only will you eliminate animals that may be shedding boil organisms, but will also get rid of ones with advanced CAE and Johne's.

There were several goats at the market this week, in the pen with Jane.  This was lightly seeping when we brought her home.  It's very likely all the goats in with her have been infected.  That's something to keep in mind - just because you can't see CL, doesn't mean they do not have it.  Any goat I buy could have it.  I think it's better to deal with it, than to obsess over it.  Time will tell if I am being naive.

Some experiences copied from blog/forum comments:
as I said earlier, there are a LOT of differing opinions about CL

"Sure the abcesses look yucky, but once goats go through it (at least the ones my friend had) they very rarely get another lump. You can use Formalin to kill the abcesse before it bursts, by injecting it into the lump after it loses the hair and before it bursts. About 6cc for a big lump, 4 cc for a med lump and 2 cc for small lump. My friends have used this with great results, the lump shrivles up and there is no spread of the CL from that lump. Overseas CL is seen as nothing more bothersome as a cold, and over here so many dairy goat herds have it the owners don't even bother with it because very few animals ever die of it. Same goes for meat herds. Now I know there is people out there that would kill a CL goat but I can't see doing that, my friends didn't and their goats are still going strong and are healthy and no lumps. Just some thoughts!"
Note - CL is more than external yuckiness, it's the internal abcesses that cause the real problems.
Cl is highly infectious and very easy to spread, I had problems with cl for the longest time, we still have one or two more goats with it and we are going to lance them in a couple of days I use an iodine solution only peroxide can form a protective layer over the puss in a couple of days once you think everything is better boom it's right back, so use iodine to clean and cleanse and then use bleach, bleach kills the virus and since there are layers of puss helps to open ip those layers making it easy to squezze,when squezzing your goat don't gove if you see the slightest white in the lance then it not over and if it still is lump. Sometimes it works one time if you really try but just to be sure go back the next day and do the same thing. And then two times after that. The goats that we have lanced in the past show no further symptoms and I believe to be cl free but I always keep a cousious eye out just in case so they don't infect the herd and start the cycle all over again

Is CL Contagious to People?
Can I Catch CL from my goat?

I have read in numerous places on the Internet that CL is contagious between animal species, even to people. This often directly results in a sense of complete fear and panic when CL first appears on a farm. I know it did for me. When I discovered Picasso had CL, and read on the Internet that it was contagious to other species, including people, I thought that Picasso, all the other animals on my farm, and I were all going to die from it.
Here's what I know:

  • My farm veterinarian, Dr. Richard Decktor, told me that in all his decades of farm veterinary practice, he has never seen a single case where a CL-infected animal infected an animal outside of its species. He felt that if it were true that a CL-infected animal could infect an animal outside of its species, he would have seen a case of it, and he hasn't, not a single one.
  • Susie Coston, National Director of Farm Sanctuary, has dealt with CL for years managing Farm Sanctuary's CL-infected goat and sheep herd. She told me that of all the people she knows that work with CL on a day-to-day basis, she doesn't know of a single person who has become infected with CL as a result of contact with a CL-infected animal.
  • In my own personal experience on my farm, neither I nor any of the other animal species on my farm (dog, cats, horses) have caught Picasso's CL, despite the fact that I and all the animals are in direct day-to-day contact with Picasso:
  • I have never made any effort to disinfect any part of my farm (with the exception of the inside of the shed used to house my unvaccinated test goat during formal testing for my permanent isolate extension).
  • I pet, hug, and kiss Picasso every day.
  • The animals share corrals, grazing areas, waterers, and occasionally feed buckets (when someone filches someone else's food when I'm not looking).

  • So if CL were truly contagious between species, why haven't people with extensive experience with CL in a real farm environment seen examples of it?

    None of us have ever gotten sick from our goats.  We have dealt with CL before, we have come in contact with the seepage..  we wash our hands of course, but no one here has "caught" this, nor have any of our other animals.  

    Caseous lymphadenitis is caused by the bacterial organism Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. The two vaccines that Colorado Serum Company makes for CLA are licensed for use in sheep only. These two vaccines are also the only two commercially available vaccines for combating CLA in the United States. The vaccine (Case-Bac) is a combination bacterin/toxoid, while Caseous D-T also contains tetanus toxoid and Clostridium perfringens type D toxoid as well.

    Note 5: Vaccines are discussed below - probably not a good idea to use and boils vaccines in this group of animals - #1, it's too late for them and #2, infected animals seem more prone to have a reaction to the vaccine.

      lots of argument about how long organism can persist in the environment; more important to know how long it poses a practical threat - probably a matter of days if just smeared on surfaces, probably a matter of weeks/,onths if incorporated in organic material - bottom line is that resting pastures and pens for at least a month (especially in summer) probably reduces potential exposure to a minimum; scraping the top 2" - 4" of soil from pens and replacing with new sand or dirt will reduce contamination potential miscellaneous - organsims couldtheoretically leave infected animals via the following routes:
        SKIN: abscesses draining through skin - important!
        RESPIRATORY TRACT: coughing, nasal secretions releasing stuff from lung abscesses - important! High density (crowding) foster transmission by this route
        URINARY TRACT: very unlikely to be shedding in urine (would need to have an abscess in the kidney
        GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT: reported to be present in the digestive tract but no one has any good data to implicate manure as a significant source of infection - plus goats are so finnicky about what they eat - certainly would be a good idea to clean up manure and keep it out of feed bunks but I wouldn't be paranoid about it - would be most concerned about animals that were thin and "wasting" - need to remember that two other causes of "wasting" are CAE and Johne's
        MAMMARY GLAND: there have been reports of shedding in milk if there are abscesses in the udder - risk that offspring could be infected this way (another good reason to pasteurize milk for human consumption)

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