Johne’s disease in goats

JD is seen more often in dairy goats than meat or fibre goats, but all breeds may be infected if they come into contact with the bacterium. Goats acquire infection at an early age through eating contaminated pasture or drinking contaminated milk or water. The signs of disease develop slowly and the disease is rarely seen in young animals.

In Australia, the disease occurs more frequently in the southern states. Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT) have no known infected goat herds.

Of the two recognised strains of Johne’s disease in Australia (cattle strain and sheep strain), the cattle strain is more common in goats and mainly associated with dairy goats. Fibre and meat goats are more likely to be exposed to the sheep strain.

The goat industry program is part of the National Johne’s Disease Project (NJDP).

Goat risk rating for Johne’s disease

To assist producers identify the potential risk associated with buying goats GICA, in consultation with the state departments of primary industries, has developed a risk rating scale for Johne’s disease.

The goat risk rating scale has been incorporated in the National Goat Health Statement (NGHS) so prospective buyers can better understand the health status and risk associated with purchasing particular lines of animals offered for sale. Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program for Goats (GoatMAP)

The Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program for Goat (GoatMAP) is a voluntary quality assurance program for producers to identify and promote animals with a very low risk of having Johne’s disease.

Producers whose herds have entered the GoatMAP have developed a farm biosecurity plan, regularly test livestock, and carefully evaluate and monitor any introductions of livestock to their herd.

Vaccination

Vaccination of kids at the approved age does not prevent M ptb infection in all animals, but it does reduce the incidence of infection and the severity of Johne’s disease in the minority of goats that do become infected.

GudairTM vaccine is registered for use in goats. Goats should be vaccinated at 4–16 weeks of age to be considered ‘approved vaccinates’.

Be careful handling and injecting the vaccine as it causes inflammatory lumps, which can be severe. People who accidentally inoculate themselves should seek immediate medical attention.

The National Goat Health Statement recognises goats vaccinated after 16 weeks of age as approved vaccinates when a GoatMAP-approved veterinarian confirms that they have not been exposed to Johne’s disease.