Listeriosis is a bacterial infection that can affect dairy goats. This disease is caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that is commonly found in soil, water, and feces. Listeriosis can be fatal if not treated promptly, therefore, it is essential to recognize the symptoms and seek veterinary assistance immediately. A typical cause might be moldy feed or hay, so it is particularly important to be alert for symptoms in wet locations or during wet times of year, and to examine all hay as you feed it out, especially alfalfa which is more prone to mold than other hays.
Goats with listeriosis tend to present with a high fever and may also present with unique differentiating symptoms such as drooling (caused by the onset of facial paralysis which can prevent them from completely closing their mouths). If a goat presents with a high fever, appears disoriented, and is drooling, listeriosis is the likely culprit and it is best to begin treatment immediately without waiting for test results as this is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Listeriosis in ruminants typically includes encephalitis-like symptoms; according to the Merck Manual it is “essentially a localized asymmetric infection of the brain stem that develops when L monocytogenes ascends the trigeminal nerve.” Clinical signs often are unilateral (one-sided) and include trigeminal and facial nerve paralysis, and less commonly, circling. Listeriosis is also known as “silage sickness” or “circling disease.”
Symptoms of Listeriosis in Dairy Goats:
– Head tilt
– Lack of coordination
– Muscle tremors
– Drooling (almost always from one side of the mouth)
Possible Causes of Listeriosis in Dairy Goats:
– Moldy/wet feed
Diagnosis of Listeriosis in dairy goats is based on clinical symptoms and laboratory tests. Your vet may perform a physical examination and blood tests, but in most cases if listeriosis is suspected it’s important to begin treatment without waiting for test results because of the severity of the disease. Treatment of listeriosis in dairy goats typically involves the aggressive administration of antibiotics – penicillin or oxytetracycline – to control the infection. Banamine may also be prescribed to combat fever, and B vitamins are always a good idea. Supportive care, such as fluid therapy and nutritional support, may also be necessary to help the goat recover.
Recovery from Listeriosis in Dairy Goats:
The prognosis for recovery from Listeriosis in dairy goats depends on the severity of the infection and how quickly treatment is initiated. With prompt and appropriate treatment, the chance of recovery is guarded but generally good. In severe cases, the goat may suffer permanent neurological damage or die from the infection. As with most neurological conditions, a complete recovery is not guaranteed and may be very slow.
To prevent Listeriosis in dairy goats, it is essential to maintain good hygiene practices in the barn and milking parlor, provide clean water and feed, and stay alert (particularly in spells of wet weather) for possible mold in feed, particularly hay.
More Information on Listeriosis in Dairy Goats: