Small Ruminant CSI: Cases of Toxic or Infectious Disorders from Herd Investigations
ACVIM 2008
Christine B. Navarre, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Introduction

Herd investigations of disease and death in small ruminants can be challenging. A good investigation starts with a thorough understanding of what the problem actually is, and a good history of the events in question. Miscommunication is the cause of many disease investigation failures. It's important to talk to the person who actually takes care of the animals on a daily basis. A good investigation also starts at the farm. Even with a very good description of a problem over the phone, there is no substitute for seeing things first hand. A thorough physical examination of sick animals should be a top priority in a disease investigation. Small ruminants are prey species and try to hide the fact that they are sick, so examining normal animals can also be helpful. A necropsy absolutely offers the best chance of getting a diagnosis for an ongoing problem. It can also reveal other herd health problems not related to the current problem. Many sudden death outbreaks are actually precipitated by underlying management issues which need to be addressed.

Case 1

The time of year is February. A producer that has had goats for years with no major problems is suddenly losing does and kids shortly after parturition. He has had crossbred "brush goats" until last fall, when he purchased some purebred Boer goats at a dispersal sale. There has seen some mild diarrhea in some of the does and recently dewormed with "pills". Goats of all breeds are affected. The goats are thin and some have pasty stool, but otherwise physical exams are normal.

What other questions might be important in this case? What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

Case 2

The time of year is June. A family recently purchased a home on 40 acres. About 40 goats (does, bucks and kids) were included in the purchase. The pasture is bahaia with very few weeds and no evidence of toxic plants. The property is crossfenced but all gates are open so the goats have access to all the pastures. They are drinking from a large pond in one pasture. The owner requests a herd health consultation. There is no previous herd health history. The goats are gathered in a small pen, and two yearlings die as the goats are being caught for examination. The goats are in good body condition. Some have pale mucous membranes. Lice are noted on some.

What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

Case 3

The time of year is May. A producer has about 40 purebred and percentage Boer goats. He would like a herd health consultation. The goats are in a large paddock. There is very little grass. There is grass hay and clean water available free choice. He turns the goats into several acres of woods each day. He is supplementing adequately with a commercial goat feed. He is concerned that some of his does are thin and kids are not growing as expected and he suspects Haemonchus is a problem even though he has been deworming once a month on a rotational schedule. On examination, some of the goats are thin. There is no evidence of diarrhea, coughing or pallor of mucous membranes. Some of the adult goats are walking along the woven wire fence while rubbing. Some of the kids are scratching behind the ears.

What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

Case 4

The time of year is August. A producer purchased about twenty Boer goats two years ago. They are on approximately 20 acres of bermuda grass pasture that is not crossfenced. There is a large shed for shelter and water troughs are clean. They have had no health problems, and have reproduced so that the herd has now grown to about 40 goats. Some of the kids have been sold for 4-H and FFA projects and no problems have been reported. He has been deworming every two months with various products. There has been an 18 month drought in the area and grass is getting very short. He has started to supplement hay and grain. It has rained in the last 10 days. He now has lost 5 goats in the last 2 days. There have been no signs of illness, just sudden deaths. The goats are all in good flesh.

What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

Case 5

The time of year is August. A producer has about 80 Gulf Coast Native (Louisiana Native) sheep. These animals are known for their parasite resistance and this herd has not been dewormed in 5 years. As in the previous case, there has been a drought for 18 months with rains the last few weeks. These animals are on Bermuda grass pasture that is cross fenced and rotationally grazed. This producer has lost 10 animals in the last 5 days to sudden death. He has already performed fecal exams and says that the egg counts are about 250-500 per gram.

What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

Case 6

The time of year is March. A producer has had two adult goats found dead and now has one yearling with neurologic signs. They are on bermuda grass pasture that is dormant, and being supplemented with round bales of grass hay and a molasses based supplement in a tub. The sick goat cannot stand, prefers to lie on one side, and has excessive salivation. He is also bloated.

What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

Case 7

The time of year is February. A producer with about 20 wethers has had one die in the last few days, and now has two that she says are constipated. She has been treating some of the goats with antibiotics for pneumonia, and recently added a supplement to the water to prevent urinary calculi.

What would the differentials be for this problem? What tests might be helpful in determining a cause?

References

1.  Flemming SA, et al. J Vet Int Med, 2006; 435-444.

Speaker Information
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Christine Navarre, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA


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