Article in ABGA Boer Goat Magazine - Sept/Oct 2001
by Lionel Dawson, D.V.M.
Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) is a chronic contagious disease affecting mainly sheep
and goats This disease is also called pseudobulerculosis or often "abscesses," and
has been referred to as the curse of the goat industry throughout the world.
CL is an infection of goats, caused by Cory nebacterium pseudotuberculosis. It is
also referred to as "abscesses", because of the peripheral swelling, rupture, and
drainage of pus from affected lymph nodes. The prevalence of CL in the commercial
goat herds may be as high as 30%. If abscesses affect more than one lymph node, the
carcass will be condemned at slaughter. Decreased body weight and milk production
also occurs, and reproductive efficiency is often lower when these animals have developed
Most commonly, symptoms are palpable enlargements of one or more of the superficial
lymph nodes. The morbidity of the infection rate in goat flocks increase with age,
and may approach 70%.
The enlarged lymph nodes have a very thick wall and are filled with thick greenish
pus. The most common lymph nodes affected are mandibular (A in figure 1), prescapular
(B), prefermoral (C), and supramammary (D) lymph nodes. Less common is involvement
of lymph nodes internally in the chest and abdomen. As the animal gets older, abscesses
often develop around the lungs, heart, liver, kidney, and spinal cord. They may cause
weight loss, pneumonia, and neuoligical signs.
C. pseudotuberculosis is spread in the environment by broken and draining external
abscesses. The organism survives in the environment for at least one year and can
be spread on such items as shearing blades, fences, and feeders. The organism enters
the goats body through small breaks in skin or mucous membranes and eventually becomes
localized in a regional lymph node. Heavy environmental bacteria contamination occurs
in confinement operations and around feeders, goat dairies seem to have a high prevalence
of CL. There is some evidence that the organism can penetrate intact skin and mucous
Presence of a firm to slightly soft subcutaneous swelling in the location of a lymph
Herd history of CL.
Culture: aspiration of the swelling and sending it to the diagnostic lab for isolating
and identifying the organism.
Serology: serologic tests such as bacterial agglutination test and synergistic hemolysis
- inhibition test are valuable in identifying goats with early stage of the disease
(no abscess yet developing).
Serologic testing may not be accurate due to the presence of antibodies in previously
exposed non-diseased or from cross - reactivity of diagnostic antigens with antibodies
against other bacteria.
Separate and isolate the affective animals.
Ripened abscesses lanced and flushed with 7% iodine solution.
The pus should be flushed down a drain, or collected and burned.
Wear gloves to prevent skin infections in humans.
Wash hands well after handling infected animal.
Surgical removal of the encapsulated abscess offers the advantages that the treated
anials need not be quarantined.
antibiotic treatment has not been effective.
Herd eradication requires diligent management.
Purchase animals from known non-infected herds.
Quarantine and monitor new animals at lease 60 days.
Monitor and cull animals with multiple abscessed lymph nodes
Housing free of sharp objects
Clean and disinfect feeders and pens regularly.
Disinfect equipment like de-horners, scalpel blades, tattoo numbers/letters, castrating
instruments and other surgical instruments.
Use a new hypodermic needle for each animal.
cull animals with chronic respiratory and wasting disease.
Bedding cleaned out regularly.
Pus should be collected and burned.
A vaccine is available and should be considered in management of CL in infected herds.
Vaccine should be considered if you're previously described eradication methods haven't
worked or failed. Colorado Serum Company is marketing Caseous-DT, an immunoprophylactic
product composed of formalin-killed organisms and toxoided culture supernatant fluid.
(Also contains toxoids for clostridium perfringens type D and tentanus toxin.) Which
has an efficiency of 70-80% in preventing the clinical manifestations of the disease.
The vaccine may cause severe reactions in infected animals, and also interferes with
serologic testing for CL.