Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAE) in Goats

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAE) in Goats

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Nowadays there are more and more animal diseases that spread fast and cause a lot of problems, and caprine arthritis encephalitis virus, also know as CAE virus is one of them. The CAE virus is a viral disease of goats and can be spread in a few different ways. So the real question is what is the CAE virus and what causes it in goats?

The caprine arthritis encephalitis virus, also known as the CAE virus of goats causes problems mainly for adult goats and can be transmitted to the kids as well. This virus infection only affects dairy goats. This virus is common in Europe and the USA, in almost any industrialized country.

The CAE virus infection can cause some damage to your goat herd if you’re into the dairy business. It is very important to know what causes the caprine arthritis encephalitis virus and how can you treat it so that you maintain your goat herd as healthy as possible.

“What is the CAE – Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus?

The caprine arthritis encephalitis virus is also known as the CAE virus is a contagious viral goat disease. The CAE virus infection is manifested as polysynovitis-arthritis in adult goats but it is less common in kids as progressive paresis. There has been attributed chronic wasting and subclinical or clinical interstitial pneumonia to the infection with this virus as well.

Caprine arthritis encephalitis virus infection is spread among dairy goats in most industrialized countries. The CAE virus is rare among indigenous goat breeds of developing countries unless the goat has been in contact with other imported goats. In some countries such as Canada, Switzerland, Norway, France, the USA, the seroprevalence of this virus is >65%.

There are 5 major CAE virus forms in goats: arthritis, encephalitis, pneumonia, mastitis, and chronic wasting. In adult goats, the most common form of the virus is the arthritic form, while the encephalitic form is more common in kids. 

The caprine arthritis encephalitis virus is an enveloped, single-stranded RNA lentivirus in the family Retroviridae. The CAE virus in goats is related to the lentiviruses and causes ovine progressive pneumonia and Maedi-visna in North America and Europe. 

It is important to mention that the CAE virus infection is widespread in dairy goat breeds, and are uncommon in meat-and-fiber-producing goats. The cause of this has been attributed to genetics and the management practices such as feeding colostrum and milk from a goat to multiple kids and can also be transmitted with frequent introductions of new animals into a herd.

 As I mentioned earlier, the CAE virus infection may also cause a chronic waste disease in which goats lose weight constantly although their appetite is unaffected. This virus infection can bring problems to the herd and must be treated with seriousness.

What causes CAE in goats?

The caprine arthritis encephalitis virus in goats is considered one of the most significant diseases affecting the goat industry across the United States. The CAE virus in goats is caused by a lentivirus which is a type of retrovirus, a family of pathogens responsible for many immunodeficiency diseases in many species, and most breeds of goats. 

As I mentioned earlier, the CAE virus infection of goats causes multiple diseases in goats such as arthritis, pneumonia, mastitis, and weight loss in adults. This virus infection also causes encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, and bran stems, in kids.

How Is CAE Transmitted In Goats?

The caprine arthritis encephalitis virus of goats is transmitted naturally in the neonatal period from an infected adult directly to the kid through consumption of colostrum and milk. There is a possibility for the transmission from the pregnant doe to the fetus and there is also evidence that suggests that the CAE virus can be transmitted directly from goat to goat as well. 

The transmission can happen possibly through saliva and nasal secretions. There is a possibility for transmission through urine and feces, semen, and the milking machines as well. A failure to use clean instruments on each animal for vaccinating, drenching, tattooing, and more can also be a route to the transmission of the virus on other goats.

What is CAE in goat’s symptoms?

There can be seen some clinical signs in approximately 20% of infected goats during their lifetime. It is important to mention that the encephalitis from the CAE virus of goats is most common in kids 2 to 4 months of age. This infectious virus is characterized by paralysis that may or may not progress to seizures or death. One of the most common symptoms of the CAE virus is ”head-pressing”, which is when the goat stands with its head pressed against the wall. 

The most common form of the CAE virus of goats is the arthritic form and can be seen in adult goats 1 to 2 years of age. The main characteristic of an infected goat is the gradual loss of weight and development of a poor hair coat and enlarged joints as well. 

More common forms of the CAE virus of goats are hypertonia and hyperreflexia. Over a certain time, signs progress to paraparesis or tetraparesis and paralysis. There have also been described as depression, head tilting, circling, torticollis, paddling, and more. 

How do you treat CAE in goats?

One must mention that there are no specific treatments for any of the clinical syndromes associated with the caprine arthritis encephalitis virus of goats. However, some supportive treatments may benefit individual goats. Goats with the polysynovitis-arthritis may be improved with regular food timing, administration of phenylbutazone or aspirin, and the use of additional bedding as well.

Also, the goats with encephalomyelitis can be maintained for weeks by providing good nursing care to the infected animal. 

There are a few ways on how to control the CAE virus in commercial herds: 1) permanent isolation of kids right at birth; 2) feed the goats with heat-treated colostrum and pasteurized kinds of milk; 3) frequent serologic testing of the herd; and 4) eventual culling of seropositive goats.

If there is a need for the segregation of herds into seropositive and seronegative groups, it is very important to separate the groups by a minimum of 6 ft which is 1.8m. One more important thing is that the shared equipment should be disinfected using phenolic or quaternary ammonium compounds.

Is there a vaccine for CAE in goats?

As I mentioned earlier, there is no specific treatment for the CAE virus-infected goats, and there is no vaccine for it. However, with supportive care and the use of pain medication and antibiotics for bacterial infections, there is a possibility to maintain it. The best way to minimize the impact of the CAE virus on your farm is prevention. If you provide high-quality and readily digestible feed to the seropositive goats, you can delay the onset of the wasting syndrome which can be a good thing when it comes to production on the farm.

Can you eat a goat with CAE?

The caprine arthritis encephalitis virus of goats mainly infects dairy goats and it is uncommon in meat-and-fiber-producing goats. Goats infected with the CAE virus is safe for human consumption and should be slaughtered for meat. So there is no room for panic when it comes to meat consumption for humans. But the problem exists mainly for the farms and the farmers because the CAE virus of goats severely limits the production which can harm their business.

Can you drink milk from a CAE positive goat?

Is there a threat for a human to drink milk from a CAE positive goat? The answer is no, there is no evidence that the CAE virus of goats can be transmitted to humans. It is important to mention that milk quality is usually unaffected. Although the mammary gland may soften and produce approximately normal amounts of milk, production remains low in many goats with indurative mastitis.