Question: We started a goat farming project, but the goats have suffered from chlamydia right from the start. What can we do to prevent this disease?
Before we discuss treatment or prevention, we need to be absolutely sure that the goats are suffering from chlamydiosis and not something else. Infected females can lose their unborn kids when they are very small, and the farmer sees nothing except perhaps blood flecks under the tail and on the hind legs.
Later, the kids may be larger when aborted and are found by the farmer. There may be no obvious signs. Still later, at the end of pregnancy, the kids may be born dead or weak. These weak kids sometimes suffer from pneumonia, diarrhoea, lameness or shaking later.
There are many other causes for these signs, so the diagnosis needs to be confirmed by a professional. Send whole foetuses of kids, along with the placenta if possible, to your local veterinarian. He will note the signs and send the right specimens to a laboratory for examination.
Confirmation and treatment
It is quite possible that there can be another cause for abortions under goats. For instance, does in the third phase of pregnancy, in particular, abort unborn kids if subjected to severe stress, such as malnutrition.
If chlamydiosis is confirmed, one would expect an extensive outbreak, followed by fewer and fewer signs, because the does become immune to further infection. Although the organism is susceptible to antibiotics such as tetracycline, treatment is seldom justified because the damage to the kids has already been done.
Also read: Act against abortions in your goat flock
There are vaccines available in South Africa, but these might not be registered in your country. Consult your local veterinarian about this, as he or she will know about availability or (if necessary) special importation. Such vaccines may only be registered for sheep, so only a veterinarian can prescribe their use for goats.
The main vaccines are live, so cannot be given to does that are to be mated or are already pregnant due to the risk of abortion. Also remember that women of childbearing age or who are pregnant are at risk of aborting if they inject themselves by mistake. The vaccines give good protection if they are injected at the right time and repeated as recommended.
- This article was written by prof. Gareth Bath and first appeared in Farming SA.