In this complete guide to listeriosis in goats, we answer the most common questions that farmers ask about this condition, including what it is, symptoms, treatments, and more.
What is Listeriosis in Goats?
Listeriosis is a bacterial disease that affects almost all species of animals, including birds and humans too. It is present worldwide, but more common in a colder and temperate climate. This disease is also famous as “Circling disease”. Listeriosis is a bacterial disease that is present in the soil, plant litter, silage, water, and sometime in the digestive system of the goats.
The bacteria usually get the entrance into the goat’s body through the mouth and then start to multiply quickly. It affects the animals of all ages but more commonly affects the goats lesser than three years.
There are two types of listeriosis in goats. One type causes the encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and other type causes abortion in the goats. Both kinds of listeriosis seldom seen together in the same herd.
Transmission of the Disease
It is one of the most common diseases of goats that usually cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in goats. This disease is also capable of causing abortion and blood poisoning in goats. The bacteria of listeriosis shed in the milk of infected or carrier female goats.
The listeria organism is present in the soil, spoiled silage, manure, urine, drainage from eyes, nose, and the milk of the infected goat. Therefore it very common for the healthy goats to get the infection through faecal and environmental contamination.
The listeria is a hardy organism and can survive in soil, faeces, spoiled silage, spoiled hay, animal tissue, and rotting woody debris for five or more than five years. The exact source of transmission is not yet clear but the faecal and environmental contamination can be the source of bacteria transmission that lives in the soil, plants, and bunks of feed and the feed itself. The spread of disease also occurs from animal to animal via the faeces.
The listeriosis mainly appearS in the winter and fall season. However, the cases of listeriosis can occur during any season of the year. This disease is more common in adult goats as compared to the kids. Listeriosis is a disease of housed or feedlot ruminants.
The low pH of silage will help bacteria to multiply in it. The outbreak appears after tens of days of consumption of poor quality silage. Change or removal of the silage may help to stop the spread of the disease. However, feeding the same silage for a long time introduce new cases listeriosis.
Listeriosis in Goat Symptoms
The type of listeriosis that causes abortion in goats usually doesn’t develop any signs. However, the other type that is known as nervous or encephalitic form can cause death within 24-48 hours after the development of the symptoms due to the rapid course of this form of listeriosis. The signs and symptoms of the encephalitic or nervous form include:
- High temperature
- Loss of appetite
- Red tissue around the eyes that may lead to blindness
- Move in circles
- Paralysis of one side of the face
- Droopy ear
- Droopy eyelid
- Rigid neck
- Slack jaw
- Drooling of saliva from the mouth
- Development of fits near to death
Listeriosis in Goat Treatments
There is no significant treatment for listeriosis, especially for small ruminants like goats. However, a more massive dose of penicillin may help the goats to recover from this disease. Once the diagnosis is done and the results show the occurrence of listeriosis, then there should be the administration of a high dose of antibiotics like penicillin with an interval of six hours.
The dose of the penicillin should be higher than the regular doses to make the penicillin cross the blood-brain barrier and to manage a significantly higher level of penicillin in the blood to destroy bacteria.
Apart from high dosage antibiotic, administration of thiamine (Vitamin B1) injection with the interval of six hours is also useful in recovering the animal. Administration of steroids like dexamethasone helps to reduce the swelling of the brain. No doubt that steroid may induce labor in pregnant female goats, but abortion is likely to happen. Therefore, induction of labor will help the pregnant female goats to recover.
There should be some supportive treatment for the goats like providing electrolytes and protein to the goats via stomach tube, so that the goat may become stable and become able to eat by themselves.
Infected animals should be isolated. Discontinue the use of round bales of hay or silage during the outbreak of listeriosis.
Listeriosis in Goat – When to Put Goat Down
Goats frequently have an acute (rapid or sudden) form of listeriosis that causes the death of the goats with 4-48 hours. The recovery is sporadic in the acute form of listeriosis.
How to Prevent Listeriosis in Goats
Prevention is a critical factor in avoiding listeriosis. The following steps can help to prevent and transmission of listeriosis in the herd.
- Avoid providing rotten vegetation and spoiled silage to the goats
- Isolate the infected goats
- Isolation of aborting goats
- Avoid rapid change in the diet
- Careful removal of the aborted fetus by wearing proper gloves, and masks etc.
- Disinfect the floors, pens.
- Isolate the new goats from some days before introducing it in the herd.
- Wash the raw vegetable, consume the pasteurised dairy food items, thorough cooking of meat, and proper hygienic conditions
- Avoid usage of untreated vegetable crops and manure to control the transmission of Listeria organism.
- Improvement of silage storage and management of other forages as this is the primary source of listeriosis.
Can Humans Get Listeriosis from Goats?
Listeriosis is primarily seen in the newborn, pregnant women, and immune-suppressed humans. Several studies conducted shows that humans become asymptomatically carries (without the signs) of listeria, harbouring the organism in the faeces or vagina. The adult humans may have an encephalitic form of listeriosis
Listeriosis is a zoonotic disease i.e. it transmits from animals to humans. Humans can get listeria organisms while handling aborted fetus, consuming unpasteurised milk, etc. The listeria organism causes abortion in pregnant women. It can develop other signs and symptoms like an infection in the blood, mild infection in hands and arms while help during the delivery, and encephalitis in humans.
- 1Diagnosing & Treating Listeriosis
- 2Goat Polio or Listeriosis? – Onion Creek Ranch
- 3Listeriosis in Your Herd | NC State Extension Publications
- 4Listeriosis in Goats – Goats
- 5Listeriosis in Ruminants and Human Risk
- 6Overview of Listeriosis – Generalized Conditions – Veterinary Manual
- 7Listeriosis – The Center for Food Security and Public Health
- 8Get the Facts about Listeria! | FDA