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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
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Caseous Lymphadenitis in Goats Print E-mail
Written by Administrator-GL   
Article Index
Caseous Lymphadenitis in Goats
Page 2

Caseous Lymphadenitis in Goats

CL, Boils and Abscesses in Goats

Every goat producer eventually is threatened with the possibility of having CLA (Caseous Lymphadenitis) in their goat herd. CLA is possibly one of the most controversial topics in goat management and can be quite frightening.
How to recognize and deal with the dreaded CLA (Caseous Lymphadentitis) in goats. Various articles about this abscess - what is and what is not a typical location for CL Abscess.


Unfortunately every time a goat gets an abscess, the first thing the owner is bombarded with is  lectures on CL (CASEOUS LYMPHADENITIS) caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis ; and the goat owner dealing with this abscess immediately is frightened into culling  the goat. 
There ARE abscesses which are NOT CL!

Read this Before You CULL!

Using Formalin to treat CLA Abscesses 

A Quick review of CL

Also known as "Cheesy Gland"  because of the dryish purulent excudate (pus) 
cheesy excudate from CLA Abscess
which is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis and typically affects sheep and goats.

It is a highly contagious disease which usually locates itself in the lymph glands but can also be internalized into the lungs and organs.

So, How does a Goat get CL?

The disease is spread through a herd by soil contamination from an external abscess which has burst  and contaminated the environment, then picked up by another animal via mucus membranes or open tissue.. The organisms can live in the soil for extended periods of time- sometimes years, possibly infecting other animals with open wounds or newborn lambs and kids with umbilical cords touching the ground, does and ewes in milk whose teats are exposed by laying on the contaminated soil are a few examples of how the disease may spread .  It is common for the disease to spread within sheep herds and Angora Goat herds via shearing contaminated animals and  not sterilizing shearing equipment between animals.

There are 2 forms of this disease- Superficial (abscesses of lymph nodes) and Visceral (abscesses of internal organs). Visceral abscesses will condemn carcasses of meat animals while the Superficial abscesses will ruin the pelt of the animal.

The Clinical Signs of CL in the Superficial form are visible abscesses just under the skin - usually near the lymph glands: This form is most typical in goats.
Diagram of CL on goats - Common CL abscess sites
These abscesses are typically filled with pus that is a white, yellow, or greenish color and usually has no real odor. It is a dryish exudate (pus) that appears cheesy. If left untreated, the nodule will grow larger until the wall of the nodule thins and it bursts, allowing the bacteria to be released into the environment. It can live years in the right environment- whether it be in the soil, barn floor or feed bins.
"Researchers have shown that the organism is capable of entering the lungs by inhalation and can spread to internal organs by injection into the bloodstream. Studies also show that it can cross the membranes of the digestive tract and vagina, and that a break in the skin is not needed for an animal to become infected." 1

The Clinical Signs of CL in the Visceral form are long term emaciation, coughing, and general poor health. The internal organs most affected are the lungs, kidney and liver- mostly in sheep, but can appear in goats.

Internal CLA Abscess

    NON- CLA Abscesses Diagram:

    Non CLA Abscess sites
    Symptoms of CLA

    • Animal is lagging behind the flock.
    • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
    • Purulent (Containing, discharging, or causing the production of pus) ocular (eye) and nasal (nose) discharge
    • Enlarged superficial body lymph nodes
    • Generalized disease is associated with weight loss, depression and loss of appetite
    • Caseous abscesses in the superficial lymph nodes and carcass muscle structure
    • Firm and dry abscess in the kidney and other organs. Soft pasty abscess in the early stages changes to firm and dry with a characteristic laminated appearance in the later stages of disease.
    • Abscess content is creamy and pasty in goats
    • Pneumonia




    Pasteurella Abscess excudate is different in appearance and odor than the typical Cheesy CLA Excudate sticky wet excudate from non CLA Abscess Pasteurella abscesses have a foul odor and are wetter and sticky - unlike the dryish cheesy appearance of the CLA excudate (pus)- which has little to no odor.
    Tooth Abscess in goat that "could be" mistaken for a CL Abscess:
    Tooth Abscess




    Salivary Gland Abscess that also could be mistaken for a CL Abscess

    Salivary Gland Abscess

    Food Impaction in Cheek

    Another "facial lump" that may be accidentally thought of as CL is when a goat with either broken or missing back molars gets food (chewed hay) caught in between the cheek and teeth- it will stay there until it is physically removed - and if left it can cause death by way of starvation and water deprivation. I recently was contacted by a distraught goat owner who was worried this lump in her doe was CL - she was devastated, I asked her to send a photo of the goat and lump - the second I saw it I knew it was food caught in the cheek- she went back to the barn, removed the impacted food and took a deep breath of relief. This will more than likely have to be repeated for possibly months - daily until either the missing tooth adjusts or the sharp point of the broken tooth dulls- She gave me permission to use her photos so that it may help others:
    goat will food impacted in cheek - NOT CLA
    Look at the green on the lip- a sign that chewed hay is the culprit. You will need to very carefully insert a finger into the mouth along the cheek and back, the goat will have the tendency to chew- be very careful as those back teeth are as sharp as shards of broken glass- hook the impact with your finger and remove. Photo courtesy of Alisha and her doe Smiley

    Photo diary of NON CLA (Pasteurella) Abscess Removal in pygmy goat


    READ THIS!>>Article on How To Treat CL using Formalin<<

    Where to buy 10% Buffered Formalin: Valley Vet Supply





    Information on the CLA Vaccine Directly from Colorado Serum who manufactors the Vaccine


    CLA in Goats

    Randall J Berrier ,DVM
    Staff Veterinarian
    Technical Service

    Colorado Serum Company often gets a lot of correspondence regarding caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) in goats and questions about using our CLA vaccines (Case-Bac and Caseous D-T) in goats.  There seems to be a lot of interest and misleading information regarding vaccinating goats against CLA.  For more detailed information about CLA, the disease, please refer to our vet's corner from June 2001, (volume 1 - no.4). 

    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. 

    The main reason why Colorado Serum Company did not have a label for usage of these vaccines in goats is safety.  Colorado Serum Company originally tested caseous vaccines in goats and noted varying levels of injection site reactions that went from no reactions to swellings about 14 inches in diameter.  There would be associated lameness post-vaccination that would last anywhere from 1 to 30 days.  All of these reactions would be unacceptable to USDA and therefore Colorado Serum Company never pursued a license in goats.  Since Colorado Serum Company was unhappy with the safety profile of these vaccines in goats, we never pursued any further efficacy testing in goats.  Over the years Colorado Serum Company has also received numerous calls from the field from people who have used this vaccine off label in goats.  A fair percentage of vaccinated goats will develop a fever and become lethargic for a period of days.  These goats will sometimes go off feed or have a reduction of feed intake.  Milking does can have a decrease in milk production.  Vaccinating pregnant animals can increase the risk factors.  As in sheep, vaccinating goats that already have CLA will do absolutely no good and will only make the above-mentioned reactions worse.  So you can see why we cannot recommend vaccinating goats with these vaccines. 

    However, all hope is not lost.  There are other options for goat ranchers.  First of all, I would strongly recommend having any suspect abscesses sampled by a veterinarian and submitted to a veterinary diagnostic lab to confirm if your herd has CLA.  An article by Gezon, Bither, Hanson and Thompson in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 1991; 198:257-263, reported that over a 16 year period Actionmyces pyogenes was cultured 3 times more often than C. pseudotuberculosis in a particular goat herd with an ongoing history of internal and external abscesses.  The point is - not every abscess in goats is CLA!  If you confirm that you do indeed have CLA in your goat herd I would recommend not treating goats that have abscesses and either selling them or isolating them.  Since there is no commercially available vaccine available for goats you may want to consider having an autogenous vaccine made from a sample of one of the abscesses that tested positive for CLA.  Most autogenous products are whole-cell bacterins.  It has been our experience that a bacterin/toxoid provides a much better immune response.  I don't know how much protection goats are going to receive from an autogenous bacterin.  You may want to try an autogenous caseous bacterin in a limited number of goats and determine if it works in your goat herd. 

    Hopefully this helped answer questions about using Colorado Serum Company Case-Bac and Caseous D-T vaccines in goats and why Colorado Serum Company can't recommend it.  Currently, Colorado Serum Company is actively pursuing a safer vaccine for CLA that can be licensed for use in goats.

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