goats & sheep,  animal & human wellness

CAE, CL and Johnes in goats

Ever since my holistic book The Energetic Goat came out I’ve been getting questions about the top three tested goat diseases – CAE, CL and Johnes. So I put together a resource for the holistic owner.  If you know of additional information, please comment and I will edit the blog post.

This information has a definite holistic eastern bias, as conventional western medicine says that all 3 diseases are untreatable, incurable, and often grounds for kill-culling the infected goat.

I am NOT claiming to have treatments or cures for any of these diseases.  I AM sharing resources and leaving you to draw your own conclusions about whether or not they are treatable or curable.

Background about testing
An antigen is a substance foreign to the body (think disease organism) that triggers an immune response. CAE, CL and Johnes are commonly tested using blood ELISA tests, which look for the antibodies to these disease antigens.  Titer tests measure the level of antibodies in the blood, called humoral immunity. Humeral immunity may or may not show the potential strength of the immune response if exposed to the disease. Animals can have low antibodies yet have a strong immune system capable of fighting off a disease exposure. Tests that measure antibodies can show positive for antibodies yet the animal is not actively infected and capable of spreading the illness.  Tests that measure antibodies can show no antibodies, yet the animal is carrying the disease organism.  Animals can also flip back and forth between positive and negative tests, depending on other stresses in their life including pregnancy.

CAE or Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis
CAE is a retro-virus, much like AIDS/HIV in humans.  It is transmitted through colostrum, milk and body fluids (saliva, semen, placental fluids).  Goats with CAE can either have encephalitis as kids, or arthritis as adults.  Fatal pneumonia is also seen.



Facebook group CAE Goats


Please see the Facebook group and links above for possible support approaches.  Also see the cross reference chart at the back of The Energetic Goat book.

CL or Caseous Lymphadenitis
CL is a bacterial infection that leads to abscesses either externally or internally.  CL is transmitted by the pus from these abscesses being eaten or getting into a cut in the skin.  CL is not normally transmitted by body fluids, colostrum, milk or in utero.  While external abscesses are easy to spot, internal abscesses are not. Goats with internal abscesses may have a cough that cannot be linked to other causes.
In rare cases, CL is contagious to humans.
Remember, abscesses are the body’s way of pushing out toxins and infectious materials.  Abscesses can actually be a healthy part of the healing process.
CL positive goats can test negative.  The only way to confirm CL is to test the pus from an abscess.

There is a CL vaccine.  Vaccinated goats will always blood test positive for CL.

Many labs offer CL ELISA testing.  WSU or UC Davis have especially good reputations.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/9114145/  for information about CL infections in humans

http://www.clgoatcare.org/  For managing goats with CL, including custom-tailored vaccines.

http://www.naturalark.com/natmed.html  Some herbal options for CL

Possible support approaches to investigate:
hot poultice of a half teaspoon slippery elm with 4 drops castor oil left on for 20 minutes several times daily
calendula and comfrey topically after the abscess bursts
poke root
chunca piedra (stonebreaker) for encapsulated infections
*Silicea 200C 3 times weekly for 4 weeks
*Calc Fluor 30C once daily for 10 days
*Gunpowder 6C 3 times daily for 5 days only during early stages of abscess formation
*Tarentula Cubensis 30C 3 times daily for 5 days for hard abscesses
*Phosphorus 200C 3 times per week for 4 weeks
*Merc Sol 30C once daily for 7 days for green pus
*always muscle test homeopathic remedies and work with an experienced homeopath.  Do not give all possible remedies in the hopes that one or more might work.
Essential oils or blends containing clove, orange, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, rosewood, naoilli, geranium, tea tree and/or oregano.  Test the blend for topical use on abscesses in poultices and for oral use 1 drop of the blend mixed in feed daily.  Make SURE the oils are labeled as safe for oral use.
Check iodine levels.  Use muscle testing or paint a patch of iodine solution on the tail skin and see if it is absorbed within 24 hours.  If it lasts longer than 24 hours, the iodine levels are likely good.

Johnes or paratuberculosis
Johnes is similar to tuberculosis in humans.  Johnes is caused by Mycobacterium avium ss. paratuberculosis (MAP).  There is some research potentially linking Johnes to human Crohn’s disease.

Infection occurs during the first few months of life by ingesting the bacteria, likely while the rumino-reticular groove is still functioning. This groove in young kids makes any colostrum and milk bypass the rumen, reticulum and omasum and go directly to the abomasum (stomach).  Here is a more in-depth explanation of the groove.
Once infected, Johnes can remain dormant for years, only becoming an active infection later in life.

Some goats with Johnes live a normal life and die a normal death without ever showing a symptom. Others become symptomatic, eventually starving to death when their body is no longer able to absorb nutrients from the damaged intestines.

The trigger that flips Johnes from dormant to active is unknown.  The difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic goats is unknown.

Johnes bacteria can live in the soil potentially for years.

Testing may be by blood ELISA to detect antibodies, or by fecal culture to determine if the goat is actually shedding the bacteria and infectious.  Many labs offer testing.  The folks at www.johnes.org are probably the most up to date on the research.

www.johnes.org  for Johnes information and testing.

Some possible supportive approaches to explore are:
colloidal silver
chunca piedra (stonebreaker) for encapsulated infections
my favorite liquid trace mineral concentrate* (there are no generic substitutes)
*Acid Nit 200C 3 times per week for 4 weeks for intestinal tone
*Aloe 30C daily for 14 days if there is pain and bloody stool or mucous in stool
*Gaertner 30C 1 dose daily for 7 days for younger animals

*always muscle test homeopathic remedies and work with an experienced homeopath.  Do not give all possible remedies in the hopes that one or more might work.

Some additional options

Homeopathic nosodes may offer protection for uninfected animals.   There are a few different sources of nosodes, and approaches to using them.
Dr. C. Edgar Sheaffer at Clark Veterinary Clinic is well-known world wide for his work with homeopathics and nosodes.  He offers nosodes for CAE, CL and Johnes and will work with producers on their entire herd’s health.  You must order the nosodes through his office.  He will instruct you on their use.
Ainsworths offers nosodes for CL and CAE.  They are listed under caprine and take a bit of hunting to find on the website.  Folks have reported using this approach with the Ainsworths nosodes:

  • I200C potency, #15 size pellets.
  • Dissolve 2-3 pellets  in a dropper bottle (1 or 2 ounce)
  • Administer 1 dropperful at a time.
  • Weekly for 4 weeks
  • Monthly for 3 more months
  • Then every 4 months give 3 doses 12 hours apart.  If there’s little chance of exposure, boosters every 6 months would be fine.

While written for humans, this is a good website for basic principles of nosodes.  http://www.homstudy.net/Education/

Radionics offer some intriguing possibilities for managing these diseases.  I have heard through the grapevine of goats being entirely symptom free and reverting to negative ELISA tests.  Again, this is anecdotal information and not to be taken as a claim of a cure.  Research radionics and find a practitioner and talk to them about your herd.

On of my favorite radionics practitioners is Dr Donna Starita at A Place For Healing.

Copper appears to be particularly important with all 3 of these diseases.  Make sure your goat’s copper requirements are being met.

In general, any goat will have a better chance of resisting an illness if fed a healthy diet with optimum amounts of bio-available minerals (chelated or plant based).  Follow all the usual steps for cleaning up the diet, cleaning up the water source, removing toxins, buying quality hay, etc.

Final Thoughts
Goats can be CAE+ and have no symptoms. Do you cull them? Or allow them to continue in your herd to build a herd of naturally CAE resistant goats? How about goats with CL? Think about how immunity works in the other diseases. A goat gets exposed, fights it off, and now has antibodies and immunity for the future, which in turn can be passed along to the kids. In theory, could this same approach hold for CAE and CL? Again, I am NOT endorsing keeping CAE and CL goats, just offering a thought for your consideration. I actually had this very conversation with an official at a goat blood testing lab, and he was the one that proposed the concept. He basically said “has anyone considered that by culling we are selecting for goats that have no ability to fight off these diseases?” Interesting…

Natural Remedies For Goat Diseases by Mark Gilberd
The Energetic Goat by Carrie Eastman
*My favorite liquid trace minerals www.dynamitemarketing.com/carrieeastman

Remember – Work with a trained health care provider.  Always muscle test.  Don’t know about muscle testing?  Read this and this.  Use common sense.

Want to learn more about building the immune system through diet?  How about reducing your goat’s toxin load?

Online classes begin January 2019!

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

One Comment

  • Shelly

    I would like to mix up some essential oils for use on a goat doe with CL. You list quite a few possible oils to blend but I'd kind of like some specific amounts to mix up in a carrier oil. Do you have any specific recommendations?

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