Anthrax is a highly infectious and often fatal disease affecting many animals, including goats. It is caused by Bacillus anthracis, which can be found in soil, water, and the environment. The disease is known by various names, such as woolsorter’s disease, splenic fever, charbon, and milzbrand.
In goats, anthrax is mainly characterized by a rapid onset of symptoms, which can be peracute, acute, or subacute. The disease can result in severe septicaemia, where the bacteria multiply rapidly in the bloodstream, leading to fever, rapid breathing, and a rapid decline in the goat’s health.
Anthrax Management in Goats
Causes of Anthrax Disease
Anthrax disease is caused by the bacteria (Bacillus anthracis), a gram-positive, capsulated, non-motile, aerobic, spore-forming, rod-shaped bacterium. The bacterium can form highly resistant spores that can survive in the environment, making it a significant threat to animal and human health.
The spores of Bacillus anthracis can be found in soil, water, and the environment, where they can persist for many years. Animals can become infected with anthrax by ingesting or inhaling the spores or through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated materials such as feed, bedding, and equipment.
Occurrence of Anthrax Disease
Anthrax disease occurs worldwide and is endemic in some countries. It has been reported in defined regions of many countries, including sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. The disease is most commonly found in areas where livestock such as goats, sheep, and cattle graze on alkaline soil rich in calcium and nitrogen and with high moisture content.
Recurrent cycles of flooding and evaporation may concentrate spores in particular low-lying regions, increasing the risk of infection. Spores of the causative agent, Bacillus anthracis, are also known to be present in contaminated animal products such as hides, wool, and bone meal, which can further spread the disease.
Disease Cycle of Anthrax in Goat
The anthrax disease cycle in goats typically begins with ingesting or inhaling anthrax spores, which can be found in contaminated soil, water, or feed. Once inside the goat’s body, the spores can germinate and transform into vegetative cells, which can multiply rapidly and produce a deadly toxin.
The initial symptoms of anthrax in goats are often non-specific and can include fever, depression, loss of appetite, and a rapid decline in overall health. As the disease progresses, the goat may develop signs of septicemia, such as rapid breathing, a weak and rapid pulse, and a fever that can exceed 41°C.
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Symptoms of Anthrax Disease in Goat
The symptoms of anthrax disease in goats can vary depending on the form of the disease, which can be peracute, acute, or subacute. In peracute cases, there may be sudden death without any warning signs. However, in acute cases, the following symptoms may be observed:
- Labored breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Ruminal stasis
- Reduced milk production
- Bloody discharges from orifices like the mouth, nostrils, anus, and vulva
- Diarrhea or dysentery
- Oedema and swelling of the tongue, throat, flank, and perineum (anus, vulva)
- Abortion in pregnant animals
- Blood-tinged milk