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  • Caused by the rickettsia Cowdria ruminantium.


  • Symptoms of heartwater vary from a sudden onset of high fever, convulsions, and death in 24 to 48 hours to an acute stage showing fever, reduced feed intake, depression, and rapid breathing.
  • After 24 to 48 hours, the goat will show nervous system signs such as twitching of the eyelids, protruding tongue, walking in circles, or high stepping.
  • The goat may stand with its legs widespread and the head lowered as if to brace itself.
  • As nervous symptoms increase, the animal will lie down and start galloping movements.


  • The disease is not contagious from animal to animal.
  • Once infected, the tick remains infected for life but does not pass the infection to its offspring.


  • Tetracyclines administered early provide good recovery and do not affect the immunity produced by having the disease.


  • Prevention is difficult. In most places, young animals are infected artificially and then treated to provide immunity.
  • Goats in areas where the disease is prevalent remain immunized by continued exspore.


  • Thedford, Thomas R. Goat Health Handbook: A Field Guide for Producers with Limited Veterinary Services. Morrilton, AR: Winrock International, 1983. Print.
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