Pneumonia in Goats
Written by Administrator-GL   
Saturday, 30 June 2007

Major Causes of Pneumonia:

The 3 main causative agents of pneumonia are: Bacterial, Viral and Parasitic.
High humidity, close conditions, drastic change in weather conditions, change in environment,feed, or kidding (Sometimes referred to as shipping stress),  inadequate ventilation and dusty damp bedding are some of the most common antagonists for the beginning of pneumonia.

Most Common Clinical Signs:

1. Weight loss
2. Cough
3. Nasal Discharge
4. Fever present sometimes not always
5. Raspy breathing
6. Difficult breathing
7. Anorexia

Function of the lungs:

The lungs are the largest organ (aside from the rumen) in the goat's body. Lungs are composed of millions of tiny thin walled air sacs. Around these air sacs are capillaries filled with blood. The blood fills with oxygen and is then transferred through the body nourishing the cells in all the organs, picking up carbon dioxide from these organs and back to the lungs for a "gas exchange", trading the carbon dioxide for oxygen.   (Of course this is a very simplified explanation of what goes on in the body). But this gives you an idea of why, when the lungs are not working to their full potential the rest of the body too, is at risk.

The lungs are a very moist organ, making them more susceptible to bacteria to take a hold any chance it has.The lungs are also enclosed in a double walled sac called pleura. The inner layer of this sac (visceral pleura) adheres tightly to the lungs and the outer layer (parietal pleura) is attached to the wall of the chest cavity. These two layers are separated by a thin space called the pleural cavity that is filled with pleural fluid; allowing the inner and outer layers to slide over each other, and prevents them from being separated easily. Bacterial infection can also cause an over abundance of fluids to accumulate in this plural cavity compromising the  job of the lungs. Pneumonias fill the air sacs (alveoli) with fluids, bacteria, and pus; also compromising the duty of the lungs to cleanse the blood and exchange the gases  (oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen).
[This explanation is neither complete nor thorough- but gives you the basics].

What is Pasteurella?

Pasteurella multocida was discovered by Louis Pasteur for it's role in Chicken Cholera.  The toxin gets inside cells and attacks cellular proteins involved in signaling.
(Cell signaling is the communication of cells so they may be able to coordinate a behavior beneficial to the organism as a whole.)
Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT) is known to stimulate the signalling proteins leading to growth changes in cellular structure and cellular shape.
In the late 1880's Louis Pasteur took part  in a contest held by the Government of So Wales. A prize of $10,000,000 to the person who could use a biological method of irradication of  rabbits who had become a pest in the pasture lands.  Pasteur intended to use this micro-organism.

The definition of Pasturella:

A genus of small, facultatively anaerobic, gram-negative ovoid to rod-shaped bacteria of the family Pasteurellaceae, made up of non-motile fermentative organisms. They are potential pathogens, causing abscesses and septicaemias in humans and respiratory and septic infections in sheep, cattle, and fowl.

Strains of Pasturella commonly affecting livestock:

Pasteurella aerogenes
A species occurring in swine that is a possible cause of abortion in swine and of human wound infections following swine bites.

Pasteurella boviseptica

Commonly found in tissues of animals affected with shipping fever.

Pasteurella hæmolytica

Distinguished from Pasteurella multocida in being ß-haemolytic. It is part of the normal flora of cattle and sheep and is the aetiologic agent of haemorrhagic septicaemia in sheep and goats, shipping fever in cattle, and a cholera-like disease in fowl. Occasionally found in human infections

Pasteurella multocida
Formerly known as Pasteurella septica. A small non-motile gram-negative coccobacillus that frequently causes disease in animals and birds. Human disease is usually from infection of a cat or dog bite or scratch, with localized swelling, abscesses, bronchiectasis, pneumonia, meningitis, and septicaemia. Pneumonia caused by Pasteurella multocida is known as Pasteurella multocida pneumonia.

Pasteurella oviseptica

Sometimes found in sheep.

Pasteurella pestis

The causative agent of bubonic plague. Recent research has proved that this disease is not the same as the Black death. Now classed as Yersinia pestis.

Pasteurella pseudotuberculosis
Can cause acute mesenteric lymphadenitis or enterocolitis. It is now classed as Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

Pasteurella septica

A species that causes various diseases in animals and humans. Now classed as Pasteurella multocida.

Pasteurella suiseptica

Causes bacterial infection in hogs.


What is Pneumonia?

Once the bacteria, virus or fungus enter the lungs, they usually settle in the air sacs of the lung where they rapidly grow in number. This area of the lung then becomes filled with fluid and pus as the body attempts to fight off the infection.

 Abscesses in the lung can cause hemorrhage (bleeding) in the lung if untreated, but antibiotics that target them have significantly reduced their danger.
 Acute respiratory distress is a specific condition that occurs when the lungs are unable to function and oxygen is so severely reduced that the patient's life is at risk.  Failure can occur if pneumonia leads to mechanical changes in the lungs (called ventilatory failure) or oxygen loss in the arteries (called hypoxemic respiratory failure).

Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) is the most common complication of pneumococcus infection (equine), but rarely does this infection spread to other sites. Bacteremia is also a frequent complication of infection with other gram-negative organisms.

In rare cases, infection may spread from the lungs to the heart and can even spread throughout the body, sometimes causing abscesses in the brain and other organs.

Pneumonia is more than likely the most common disease of goats today, especially in kids.

Major Causes of Pneumonia:

The 3 main causative agents of pneumonia are: Bacterial, Viral and Parasitic.
High humidity, close conditions, drastic change in weather conditions, change in environment,feed, or kidding (Sometimes referred to as shipping stress),  inadequate ventilation and dusty damp bedding are some of the most common antagonists for the beginning of pneumonia.

Most Common Clinical Signs of Pneumonia:

1. Weight loss
2. Cough
3. Nasal Discharge
4. Fever present sometimes not always
5. Raspy breathing
6. Difficult breathing
7. Anorexia

Treatment Choices:

Do not delay in treatment, early detection and treatment ease the seriousness of pneumonia greatly.
Different medications will work on different types of pneumonia. If you have not had a diagnosis by a Veterinarian, and are treating yourself- expect some improvement by the second full day of treatment. If you do not see this improvement, I would change the medication choice for treatment.

   1.  Bacterial Causes of Pneumonia -

          * Treatment with antibiotics such as Tylan200, Nuflor, LA-200, penicillin, tetracycline, Albon, and Gallimycin may be considered. Like most bacterial infections, veterinary culture and testing is recommended.

   2. Viral Causes of Pneumonia -

          * Viral Pneumonia willnot respond to antibiotic treatment unless it has advanced to a secondary bacterial infection- which will respond to antibiotic treatment.  Treatment for  viral pneumonia involves treating the symptoms, not killing the virus. Electrolytes, fluids, anti-inflammatory agents (Banamine) along with  antihistamine  such as Benadryl can be given.

   3. Parasitic Causes of Pneumonia -

          * Lungworm can cause a secondary bacterial pneumonia in cases not treated - Ivermectin and Valbazen being 2 good choices for treatment of lungworm. **NOTE: Do Not use Valbazen on pregnant does.

Pneumonia: Not a Disease

Please understand that pneumonia is not a disease but a condition of the lungs because of causative agents (mentioned above- bacterial, viral, parasidic).
The most common bacterial pneumonia is by far Pasturella because this bacteria lives naturally within the goat's mouth, throat, lungs and bronchi. It causes no problem until the goat is stressed by some means, illness, fright, kidding, weather change, environment change etc. The goat's natural immune system is then compromised and the goat's body allows the bacteria within the body to multiply and therefore pneumonia can develop.

Interstitial Pneumonia: CAN BE Misunderstood

This is most often a fatal pneumonia -75% of the time.
I know many of you have asked me about interstitial pneumonia. You have heard it is a pneumonia that is not noticed until the animal is dead.  That said animal will be fine one day and dead the next.
This "CAN BE" mis-information. After much research, this can also be a chronic situation within the lungs typically related to CAEV. Instead: "Outbreaks of acute pneumonic pasteurellosis often commence with sudden deaths before clinical signs are observed. As an outbreak proceeds, respiratory signs become more apparent, particularly in older sheep rather than in lambs. Signs then include dullness, anorexia, fever, dyspnoea or hyperpnoea. On auscultation, respiratory sounds are loud and prolonged. Affected sheep froth at the mouth, cough and have a serous nasal discharge. In acute cases, death occurs in 1 to 3 days."[Gilmour NJL, Angus KW and Gilmour JS (1991) Pasteurellosis in Diseases of sheep 2nd ed, ed WB Martin and ID Aitken, publ Blackwell Scientific, London p 133]

IN Addition- a quote from Suzanne Gasparotto's article is also of good information regarding Goats-

Interstitial pneumonia is the most common type to occur, quickest to kill, and often hardest to diagnose in goats. Death can occur in 12 hours or less. Example: At night the goat appears healthy, but in the morning it is down and dying. No runny nose and no fever -- just a goat that is off-feed, may or may not occasionally cough, and standing away from the herd because fluids are building up in the lungs (not sitting or laying down, unless it is already at death's door), but may not appear to be seriously ill. The only clear diagnostic symptom is high fever and it may not be present when you discover the sick goat. High fever peaks quickly and then body temperature rapidly drops below normal, possibly misleading you into diagnosing the problem as ruminal. Sub-normal body temperature is often a sign of ruminal problems. Body temperature under 100*F should be considered critical, regardless of the cause of the illness.
If high fever is present, it must be brought down quickly; fever-reducing medication and appropriate antibiotic therapy must be started immediately. If fever is not present but all other symptoms indicate pneumonia, antibiotic treatment is also essential. (This is an exception to the "no antibiotic usage if fever is not present" rule.) If the illness has progressed far enough, the goat will try to sit down, moan with discomfort, and immediately stand up --- because fluid has begun to accumulate in the lungs and abdomen and its kidneys are shutting down. A goat in this condition probably cannot be saved but you should try until efforts prove either successful or futile. A goat that wants to live can overcome amazing obstacles. However, once the lungs fill with fluid, survival is unlikely. If you cannot save it, do the right and humane thing and put the goat down to stop its suffering.
Banamine or generic equivalent (veterinary prescription) is an anti-inflammatory drug that lowers fever-induced high body temperature and helps allievate pain and inflammation. Banamine should be used once every 12 hours for several days but normally no more frequently, because it can cause stomach ulcers. Common sense dictates that if nothing else is available to drop the fever into normal range and the goat is likely to die, use Banamine as needed. Administer Banamine into the muscle (IM) dosing 1cc per 100 lbs. body weight. A newborn kid with fever (depending upon breed and weight) should receive 1/10th to 2/10th's of a cc (one-tenth to two-tenth's of a cc) of Banamine. If Banamine is not available, baby aspirin can be used. Treat kids with at least one baby aspirin and adults with at least three baby aspirin. Do not use other pain relievers, such as Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, etc. --- only baby aspirin. Note: I do not consider baby aspirin to be a desirable alternative to Banamine, so go to your vet and buy a bottle of generic Banamine (flunixin meglumine).

Interstitial definition = Relating to or situated in the small, narrow spaces between tissues or parts of an organ.
Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is a general term that includes a variety of chronic lung disorders. When a person has ILD, the lung is affected in three ways. First, the lung tissue is damaged in some known or unknown way. Second, the walls of the air sacs in the lung become inflamed. Finally, scarring (or fibrosis) begins in the interstitium (or tissue between the air sacs), and the lung becomes stiff.
The tissue between the air sacs of the lungs is called the interstitium. Interstitial lung disease is named after this tissue because this is the tissue affected by fibrosis (scarring). Interstitial lung disease is sometimes also known as "interstitial pulmonary fibrosis." The terms interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial pulmonary fibrosis are often used to describe the same condition. [ref: American Lung Association]

Now what can happen is that the shortness of breath or dry cough in an animal can go unnoticed,
the condition advances and causes a rapid onset of respiratory failure.

*Note: Recently I have been made aware of BO-SE, an Rx medication,  [1 mg of Selenium with the 50 mg of Vitamin E] as treatment for the immune system when a goat is debilitating. Sue Reith does much research with goat health and has given me a therapeutic treatment program which I personally have tried and can attest - it does work: Sue recommends upon her own research:  BoSe injection (at the rate of 1cc/40 lbs SQ) is given once daily for 3 days...
Then it is given once every 2nd day for 3 doses... Then once a week for a

I hope this helps you to understand how the lungs work and how pneumonia works in the goat's body.
Until Next time...goatlady
Last Updated ( Monday, 14 December 2015 )