Goat Toxoplasmosis


The main problem in goats affected by this organism is abortions. The organism is a protozoan called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma is a one-celled parasite. It is more of a problem in sheep and is a major cause of abortion, mummification, stillbirth, and weak kids. Cats are the carrier of the organism. They become infected by eating uncooked meat scraps, placentas, and small rodents. Recently infected cats then shed the eggs in their feces. Goats become infected by eating grass, hay, or grain contaminated by cat feces. It reaches the reproductive tract by the blood after invasion of the small intestine. If the goat is pregnant at the time of initial infection, Toxoplasma commonly invades the placenta and fetus approximately two weeks after initial infection of the doe. Fetuses infected in the first half of pregnancy are more apt to die than fetuses infected in the second half. Previously infected goats are usually resistant to abortion when challenged again by the organism. Symptoms are aborted fetuses, typically in the first half of pregnancy. The definitive diagnosis is made using laboratory analysis based on serology or histology. There is no effective treatment recognized for toxoplasmosis at this time. Control is based on sound sanitation and best management practices. Steps should be taken to prevent exposure of susceptible goats to the eggs in cat feces during pregnancy. Store grain and feed in covered containers. Keep a closed herd of cats on the premises. Spay and neuter cat populations. Do not feed raw meat to cats. Dispose of aborted fetuses and placentas in acceptable manners. Wear protective gloves when handling infected material and pasteurize milk and properly cook meat fed to cats. This organism is contagious to humans, and pregnant women should be careful when handling cat feces and contaminated aborted material. Vaccination is available.

References cited:Goat Medicine; Mary C. Smith and David Sherman