Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis in Goats

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) stands as a formidable challenge to goat farmers, exerting economic impacts across all breeds of domestic goats. While not posing a direct threat to human health, this contagious viral disease demands the attention of producers who seek to enhance profitability and alleviate the suffering of their animals. This article delves into the intricate facets of CAE, from its’ transmission routes to its symptomatic manifestations, and explores the crucial role of serology options in managing and mitigating the disease’s effects.

Transmission Dynamics

The primary mode of CAE transmission is through the dam’s milk, with colostrum acting as a significant carrier. Additionally, the infection can spread through direct blood contact and contaminated needles, emphasizing the need for meticulous care during any procedures involving blood. Producers must be cognizant of these transmission routes to implement effective preventive measures.

Clinical Manifestations

CAE manifests in various ways, with arthritis being a prevalent symptom among adult goats. This condition, often affecting the knee and other joints, can have a gradual or sudden onset but almost always progresses, leading to lameness. Affected goats also exhibit signs such as poor hair coats and declining conditioning, while adults may develop pneumonia. In kids aged two to four months, encephalitis symptoms manifest as weakness, loss of bodily control, head tilting, paddling, and blindness. Does infected with CAE may further develop mastitis, colloquially referred to as a “hard bag,” contributing to weak or unthrifty kids due to decreased milk production.

Cumulative Economic Impact

The economic consequences of CAE are multifaceted. Even in subclinical cases where goats show no obvious signs, there is a reduction in lifetime productivity. Breeding programs suffer from an overall decrease in the weaning rate, resulting in cumulative economic losses. This underscores the need for proactive measures to control CAE and safeguard the overall well-being of goat herds.

Serology Options: A Ray of Hope

While there is no effective vaccine against CAE, the availability of serology options provides a valuable tool for producers. These tests enable informed decision-making in breeding and kidding management. By identifying infected animals through serological detection, producers can tailor custom herd health management plans in collaboration with veterinarians. This targeted approach allows for strategic interventions to limit the spread of the disease and its impact on the herd.

Eradication Strategies

In the absence of a vaccine, CAE eradication programs hinge on feeding heat treated colostrum, separation of infected individuals, and the continued use of serological detection. Heat treated colostrum destroys the virus and if carefully managed breaks the transmission route in newborn kids. Separation of infected animals helps contain the spread, while serological detection plays a pivotal role in identifying carriers. Combining these strategies forms a comprehensive approach to tackling CAE on the farm.


Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis poses a significant challenge to the goat farming industry, impacting both the health of animals and the economic viability of operations. Producers must be vigilant in understanding the disease’s transmission dynamics, clinical manifestations, and economic consequences. The integration of serology options into management practices offers a practical means of controlling CAE and mitigating its effects. By implementing eradication strategies and working collaboratively with veterinarians, goat farmers can fortify their herds against the insidious impact of this viral disease, ultimately promoting the welfare of their animals and the sustainability of their operations.