Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Syndrome

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Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Syndrome

CAE – Leucoencephalomyelitis Virus of Goats



  • Caused by a virus.


  • Young kids (2 to 4 months old) develop a weakness in the rear legs (encephalitic form), stumble, and finally cannot rise. They have no fever, eat well, and appear bright throughout the course of the disease. However, the unused legs lose muscle strength and structure and the infected kids eventually die due to lack of feed intake.
  • In older goats, the same disease is seen as swollen joints (arthritic form). At least two joints usually are involved. The disease develops slowly, and after 2 or more years, the animal has difficulty using its legs properly. Infected goats have no fever, remain alert, and eat well. However, they do not recover from the arthritis. After several years, they lose weight because they cannot keep up with the heard while grazing. The joints become constricted and many goats walk on their knees.
  • In older goats you will see an increase incidence of mastitis and pneumonia.


  • The disease is spread from older infected goats to kids, primarily through the milk from infected doe to her kid.
  • Secondary route of transmission is the use of needles and equipment contaminated with infected blood.
  • Only a small percentage of goats ever show signs of the disease, even though a high percentage of tests for the virus will be positive.



  • There are no corrective procedures or treatments.


  • Testing pregnant does prior to kidding. (Consider culling positive does from your herd)
  • Do not allow kids to nurse does that test positive for CAE.
  • Isolating kids at birth and raising them in an area away from other goats has been successful, but this procedure may not be practical except in extreme circumstances.
  • Milk from CAE positive does can be used when using correct pasteurization techniques.


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