Listeriosis In Our Goat Herd

As a keeper of a very healthy goat herd for the last nine years, I am always very happy and proud to say that I have only ever lost one adult goat in all these years, and never lost a kid, except for the one kid who was born dead (and had been dead approx. 2 weeks prior to kidding). The goats may be rather high maintenance, especially during kidding season, but as long as they are fed properly, and kept inside their pasture, they are very healthy and hardy animals. Except for the couple cases of milk-fever, and one case of mastitis several years ago, the girls here have been very healthy.

But this morning, as I am writing this, I am looking a dear friend and favorite goat and know that she may not make it through the day. Miley has come down with a severe case of Listeriosis and is not responding as hoped to antibiotics. She is on penicillin. The vet had me giving her 12 cc IM per day, but now we have went to 12 cc IM twice per day…which is a lot of meds for a goat. She got her first dose IV and immediately went down into convulsions and seizures. He explained that the reaction was a normal response to the carrier in the penicillin but that it was necessary to do an injection IV to get the antibiotic into the brain faster, to limit the damage to the brain.

I am writing this post this morning because I have found very little information on the internet about the best way to handle Listeriosis in goats. Maybe my story will help someone else. It is truly heartbreaking to watch Miley struggle. Euthanasia is an option that we may look at eventually, but has not been recommended. This disease, as I understand it, will not linger forever, but either run it’s course, or kill the host, and in either case, does not take too long. Recovery though, can take weeks or months and partial paralysis may linger forever. That is okay with us. Miley is a dear friend, and as long as she can eat and drink on her own, and enjoys life, she will have a place in our family.

Listeriosis can affect all warmblooded mammals, including humans, so we are taking precautions, and trying to pinpoint the source of the bacterium. We’ve not had any new feeds, but we have had a snowstorm, cold weather, and rain…the perfect breeding ground for this cold-loving critter. I believe it may have come from bits of feed in the corners of some feeders that got wet, then froze and then unfroze in the warmer weather, and was injested. Miley is the only goat in the herd that has been affected, possibly because she just kidded a couple weeks ago, so her immune system was a little compromised.

She is almost totally paralyzed on one side of her body and struggles often to get up but cannot. She cannot eat or drink but tries to drink warm electrolytes from a pan and chew cookies. She can still swallow so I am pushing her into an upright position and syringe feeding electrolytes, kefir whey, coconut milk, pureed bananas, and kombucha to try and keep her hydrated and keep up her strength as much as possible. Last night we moved her inside the house onto a mattress on the floor to make it a little easier for me to give her the constant care she needs. She is not pooping or peeing much at this point although we are putting puppy pads under her to catch anything so she doesn’t have to lie in it.

The prognosis the vet gave us is grim, but I plan to continue the feedings and care until she asks me to stop. She still greets me when she sees me, even though she cannot raise her head. I’ve asked for prayers, and am praying for her myself and we will just continue to wait and hope.

 

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