Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) is a lentiviral infection of goats which may lead to chronic disease of the joints
and on rare occasions encephalitis in goat kids less than six months of age. The CAE virus is intimately associated with white
blood cells; therefore, any body secretions which contain white blood cells are potential sources of virus to other goats
in the herd. Since not all goats that become infected with CAE virus progress to disease, it is important to test goats routinely
for infection by means of a serology test which detects viral antibodies in the serum.
We have had numerous inquiries about CAE virus, how to test for it, and most importantly, how to take steps to control
the infection in goat herds. It is important to remember that ‘goat infection status, not clinical
disease, is the element of interest in assessing risk factors and designing control programs for CAE virus’ (Rowe &
What are the major means of spread of the virus?
The CAE virus is primarily transmitted to kids
via colostrum in the first few feedings after birth. Blood (e.g., contaminated instruments such as needles, dehorners,saliva
etc, and open wounds) is regarded as the second most common way of spread. Contact transmission between adult goats is considered
to be rare except during lactation.
Is it okay to drink raw milk containing the infectious CAE virus?
There is NO evidence that the CAE
virus is transmissible to humans. However, there are other serious human pathogens which have been transmitted through raw
milk. Consult your veterinarian regarding the public health hazards of consuming raw milk
How often should I test my animals?
Twice a year initially followed by annual testing is suggested
for herds which are primarily negative, with testing before kidding recommended. Any new animals brought into the herd should
be quarantined and tested twice (at least 30 days apart) before introduction with other negative animals. In addition to CAE
infection, new goats should be tested for Johne’s disease, and Brucellosis as a biosecurity screen. For herds with both
positive and negative animals, negative animals should be tested more often to adjust the milking order so that negative animals
are milked first
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AND Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab