While in this day and age there are not too many livestock diseases that can’t be treated. However, conditions like this do exist in the world of agriculture – and Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) is one of them.
What is CAE?
“Caprine arthritis encephalitis is a viral disease of goats that is caused by the caprine arthritis encephalitis virus (CAEV),” according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). “CAEV is a lentivirus, and one of several lentiviruses in the family Retroviridae.”
According to the University of Missouri Extension, caprine arthritis encephalitis virus can affect multiple organ systems in goats, with arthritis being a common manifestation of the disease in older goats. Arthritis can occur in more than one joint. Other issues include pneumonia, mastitis, weight loss and encephalitis.
How is CAE contracted?
Infection usually occurs by the kid ingesting colostrum or milk from an infected dam, according to the University of Missouri Extension.
While this is the most common way for other goats to contract the disease, there are other routes of transmission as well. Not all CAEV infection in kids can be explained by ingestion of CAEV in milk.
There are other potential routes of transmission that are not as efficient as colostrum and milk transmission. These potential routes are in utero transmission, birthing transmission, transmission via saliva and respiratory secretions during mothering, and accidental ingestion of colostrum from CAEV infected does.”
What are the symptoms of CAE?
While many goats within a herd can carry CAEV, not all the goats will show symptoms.
When they do, these symptoms can range from lameness to poor body condition to pneumonia to nervous system dysfunction. Arthritis is a common symptom of CAEV in mature goats.
Kids tend to suffer from Encephalomyelitis, which is inflammation of the tissues in the brain and brain stem. Initially, affected kids will be lame, the gait will be wobbly and misdirected, and correct placement of the hind limbs and feet will become difficult.
As the disease progresses, paralysis of both limbs on one side of the body, or paralysis of all four limbs will occur. Standing will become impossible, so the goats may lie on their sides and paddle in the bedding. Other signs are depression, walking in circles, head twitch, head tilt, exaggerated upward tilt of the head, exaggerated sideward tilt of the head and muscle tremors.”
Can CAE be treated and prevented?
Unfortunately, there is currently no known treatment for CAE in goats.
It is a lifelong infection, and if symptoms come to light, the University of Missouri Extension recommends culling those animals immediately to prevent further spread of the disease. The best method to keep this disease at bay is to design and implement a CAE control program.
The underlying basis of most, if not all, CAEV control programs is prevention of vertical transmission first, followed by prevention of horizontal transmission, said USDA APHIS.
Prevention of vertical transmission refers to prevention of transmission from doe to kid(s), as an example. Prevention of horizontal transmission refers to prevention of doe to-doe and kid-to-kid transmission.
Keeping kids from nursing infected does will aid in diffusing vertical transmission. Horizontal transmission can be avoided by implementing bio-security practices such as a herd surveillance program, culling or separating infected animals, milking negative does prior to milking positive does, breeding negative does to negative bucks only, and applying appropriate measures of hygiene by properly cleaning needles, dehorners, tattoo tools, hoof shears and other equipment.