Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Final Diagnosis

Finally, after three months of unfruitful testing and treating, the vets were able to diagnose the "mystery disease" that befell my herd and seven others in the surrounding area.

 Turns out that we were battling liver fluke worms.

Once I heard the news, I realized that it made perfect sense! And then I mourned the fact that I could have saved every single one of my goats that I lost, if I only knew sooner what it was...

Liver fluke, as you can guess, attacks the animals liver, and destroys it in short order before moving on to destroy the rest of the animals system. They favor cool, damp weather, which is exactly what we had this year. Never ending wet weather!! So it was the perfect environment for the nasty suckers. The eggs of the liver fluke are the smallest of all intestinal worms, and are challenging to see beneath a microscope, which explains why we were all so befuddled. We sent fecal test after fecal test to the vets, since the symptoms were so closely matching that of worms, but every time, they tests came out 100% clean. None of the vets could spot the teeny liver fluke eggs. Grr.
It did explain Penny's death though... While Capri looked like death warmed over, as the worms tried to shut her system down, Penny looked perfectly fine. I never even suspected that she might be sick. She did however, have a compromised immune system, so when she got her share of the worms, it only took 3 days before she crumbled. On the outside, Penny still looked healthy. Good weight, nice coat, etc. But if you looked at her gums, they were pure white. Not good. :(

The kids were still too young to have a good immune level, so they were wiped out quickly, too.

It wasn't until almost the end of September that one breeder finally told a vet to move out of the way, so she could take a look at those fecal samples we sent in (lesson learned: don't always trust the vet). After some extremely hard looks, she was able to detect the liver fluke. Once we knew what we were dealing with, we all scrambled to the feed store to buy some Valbazen (a really strong dewormer). Five days after putting the remaining goats on that, everyone was back to normal.

That's all it took.

And I had to lose five goats because of my own ignorance.


All the goats are now on a very strict, aggressive treatment, using the valbazen, that will last until December or January. Pastures are being quarantined for 30 days minimum, and old bedding is being very carefully dealt with. Once liver fluke has a hold on your property, it's no picnic getting it to go away.

But at least we now know what it was. We all learned some hard lessons, but rest assured, we will be working hard not to let it happen again!!

Thus ends our woeful saga...


Garden of Glory said...

I'm so glad you figured it out. At least that is some relief since now you know what to work on preventing in the future.

Question: according to my research, Fasciolosis is not very common in adult cattle, but varying levels of liver flukes may be present and affect the health of the animal. Mattie has been thinner and more anaemic this lactation than at any other, and I'm thinking she has a parasite infestation... any clue as to how I can discover what kind before dosing her up on different kinds of meds? Isn't it true that other kinds of parasites also thrive in these damp conditions?

Goat Song said...

Yep, with this weather that we've been having, parasites are running rampant. So you are probably right in your guess about Mattie. I'd say your best bet is to get a fecal test done. If you have a microscope, or if you can borrow one from someone, then you can easily do it yourself. But that will identify what kind of worms she has. Just make sure to look extra hard for liver fluke!

Krista M.V. said...

Wow, I'm so glad you all got that taken care of! Such a bummer though that you lost five goats. :( Sounds very much like what happened to our last herd though. I wonder if it was the same thing...

Goat Song said...

Hi Krista! :D Long time no see! That would be interesting if it was the same thing that went through y'all's herd... Phooey on this unpredictable Oregon weather!

Niki said...

I'm sorry for your loss, that would break my heart. Thank goodness though that you now know the way to prevent anymore losses.