Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

CAE is a chronic multi-systemic disease in goats. Infection is widespread and arthritis in more than one joint is the most common clinical signs.  The most common means of transmission is the ingestion of colostrum by kids nursing infected does. CAE can also be spread by breeding, contaminated dehorning equipment and needles, and at parturition.

The target tissues of CAE virus are the joints, mammary glands, lungs, and brain. The disease results from inflammation as immune system reacts to the virus. Goats can develop a blood titer in 2-8 weeks but may not show clinical signs for years.

Symptoms: The vast majority of animals infected with CAE will show no signs of disease. When clinical signs are present it depends on the system affected. In animals 2-6 months of age neurologic signs are the most common. Kids may be depressed, weak, or paralytic. Seizuring and abnormal vocalization may also occur. In animals over 6 months of age arthritis, mastitis, and pneumonia may occur. A progressive arthritis is the most common and usually noted in the front pastern joints, with chronic progression over the years. If the udder is affected a firm udder with little or no milk production may be present. If the lungs are affected the animal may show increased respiratory rate and difficulty breathing. Some animals with CAE infection may have chronic weight loss with no other signs.



Diagnosis: Routine diagnosis is based on specific serological (blood) testing called agar gel immunodiffusion test (AGID) or polymerase chain reaction assay (PCR).

Treatment: There is no treatment; affected animals are a source of infection to others. It is recommended to cull infected and positive animals in order to eradicate the disease on the farm, otherwise rigorous management is required.


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