Sore mouth in goats is a viral disease caused by a virus of the Poxvirus family. This disease has other common names too like scabby mouth, orf, ecthyma, or pustular dermatitis. This disease mainly characterised by the formation of lesions around the area of lips, mouth, and nose. Sore mouth is present worldwide and it can lead to the development of the thick and painful sores around the lips, gums, mouth, and nose. This disease is not just stuck to the mouth only.
Sore mouth is a disease of sheep and goats but goats are more susceptible to the sore mouth. This ailment is highly contagious (i.e. it can spread from one animal to other and to humans too), and it causes significant economic losses in the goat production.
The lesions in the goats due do sore mouth will reduce the market worth of the goat’s meat. The wounds may interfere with the feeding of the goats, and if the lesion developed on or around teats or udder, it might cause abandonment of the offspring (young ones).
What Causes Sore Mouth In Goats?
The transmission of the sore mouth’s virus is possible through direct contact of the animals. The sore mouth virus gets the entrance to the goat’s body through a small wound in the skin. Minor scars due to the fodder are enough for the virus to enter the body of the goats.
The transmission of the virus is also possible via indirect contact of the goat with the contaminated types of equipment of drinking, eating, bedding, and fence. There are more chances of a severe outbreak of the sore mouth disease with the usage of artificial rearing system. The young ones will share the same nipple and thus transmitting the virus.
Another possible cause of sore mouth transmission is through several exhibitions and shows. The goats may come in the nose to nose contact and the judges may spread the disease while examining the teeth of the animals. Vaccination can be a reason too when introducing to a virus-free herd. The reason behind the vaccination spread of the disease is that animals don’t have the exposure to the condition and their immune system is still under development.
Young goats are more prone to this viral disease. Adult goats do have the chances of the infection too. Goats once recovered from the sore mouth disease, may develop some resistance against the re-infection of the disease. There different types of sore mouth virus, and there is a possibility the goat can become re-infected with other forms of the sore mouth virus. However, the re-infection is less severe as compared to the initial infection.
After the entrance of the virus to the skin, it starts multiplying in the skin. After 2-3 days of the initial exposure to the virus, the development of pustules or vesicles begins. The lesion of sore mouth will start to develop around the nose and the lips. These lesions may also appear on other body parts of the animals too like for instance, on limbs, feet, eyes, ears, genital areas and udder or teats.
Usually, the sore mouth virus affects the non-woolly portion of the goat’s body. During the disease, the scabs fall off and the underlying tissue starts to heal without scarring. There are chances of secondary bacteria on the crusts and with the possibility of blowfly infection that may lay eggs which develop into worms.
The kids nursing on the teats of the female goats can transmit the disease. These test lesions may have a secondary bacterial infection that leads to mastitis in goats. Mastitis in goats results in the loss of partially affected udder of the goats and early culling of the infected goats.
Is Sore Mouth In Goat Contagious?
Sore mouth is highly contagious (spread from animal to other) and zoonotic (spread from animals to humans) disease. The signs of sore mouth in humans include red papules most often on the arms or hands. Human’s armpit, especially shearer’s armpit, get the infection too when they hold the infected goat under their arms.
The sore mouth virus can also spread to the human when they are vaccinating the animals. Therefore, special care is advisable when handling animals or when using the vaccine. A person should wear gloves while handling or vaccinating the goats to avoid the spread of disease from animals to humans or from animal to animals.
How to Treat Sore Mouth in Goats?
Currently, there is no rewarding remedy for sore mouth disease. The sore mouth virus doesn’t respond to antibiotic medication. However, it is not necessary to treat the lesion until and unless there is any bacterial infection or maggot’s development.
Mild cases are usually self-limiting i.e., and they get self-cured without any treatment. Softening ointments may have some significant effects in severe cases. The most crucial factor is to ensure that the animal keeps eating and drinking. Providing the animal's soft, the palatable feed will sufficient keeping the animal eating.
The supportive treatment includes the application of antibiotic ointments on the lesions to soften them. Some studies show that the ether may break the lipid of the virus. Therefore, it can be handy in softening the sores of the goats. Administration of systematic antibiotics will help to prevent the development of secondary bacterial infection.
Avoid removing the crust of the lesions as it may lead to delay healing of the lesions. Apart from delay healing, it also enhances the spread possibility of the disease in other animals. The udders of the female goats should have special care, and providing udder salve will assist in keeping the scabs on the teats and preventing the spread of the ailment.
In severe cases, the kid should keep away from the infected female goats and avoid them to suck the milk of other healthy goats as they can transmit the disease to healthy goats too. With the development of mastitis in the goats, the use of intra-mammary antibiotic medicines is advisable.
Some herbal treatment is also useful to treat the sore mouth. A mixture of oil from sesame plants and the juice of Euphorbia are helpful for the treatment of sore mouth. The plant of Ilex aquifolium is also beneficial to prevent and cure sore mouth.