The official name for Goat Polio is "Polioencephalomalacia". It is a nutritional
/metabolic disease that affects primarily ruminants, including goats. Metabolic
means relating to metabolism, the whole range of biochemical processes that occur
within the goat's rumen. In ruminant animals that means processing the food the
goat has eaten. This disease has become more prominent in goats in the U.S. that
are under intensive management conditions when they are fed more concentrated feed
to get them to grow faster.
The main cause of this disease is either a thiamine deficiency or the stopping of
the thiamine activity in the rumen. Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is a major part of the
rumen processing that occurs with carbohydrates and amino acid in the rumen. Decreased
processing activity leads to cell death in the brain and swelling from excessive
accumulation of watery fluid in brain cells and tissues. The symptoms originate from
the damage to the brain.
The thiamine is produced in sufficient amounts by specific bacteria in the goat's
rumen. Any changes in the normal environment in the rumen may lead to reduced production
of thiamine in the rumen Normally something else has occurred to upset the goat's
processing of its food intake and that causes the Goat Polio to occur.
Things that can cause the rumen to not produce the required thiamine are:
Rumen acidosis cause by excessive concentrate feeding and sudden feed changes.
Thiabendazole - active ingredient in some wormer medication like Thibenzole Sheep
& Goat Wormer
Levamisole - wormer
Some types of ferns
Following a shot of an antibiotic. - the antibiotic is used for killing bad bacteria
but may also kill the good bacteria in the rumen that helps process the feed that
results in thiamine. ALWAYS FOLLOW UP ANY ANTIBIOTIC SHOT WITH A TREATMENT OF "PROBIOS"
some similar product that will repopulate the rumen with good microbes.
Overdosing of Amprolium - ingredant in medication such as CORID for prevention of
coccidiosis: Amprlium is a thiamine analog, competitively inhibits the active transport
Feeding horse type of sweet feed with high molasses content.
Signs of Goat Polio
Not eating and/or diarrhea
Early neurologic dysfunction such as
elevation of the head
staring off into space
As the disease progresses
Involuntary eye movement
extensor rigidity - the muscles that extends or straightens a limb or body part
Early signs of depression and diarrhea are also common in enterotoxemia and pregnancy
toxemia. If the animal is not close to kidding, you can rule out the pregnancy toxemia.
The blindness and/or extensor rigidity are strong symptoms for goat polio instead
of enterotoxemia. The extensor rigidity is also a sign of tetanus. If the animal
is circling, that is also a sign of listeriosis. The best thing to consider is what
lead up to the symptoms and quickly watching for any signs of blindness. Look at
the list of what can cause the goat polio and consider if any of them have occurred
recently. Also, it will not hurt to treat an animal with tetnus or listeriosis with
the treatment for goat polio.
The only effective treatment is thiamine. Thiamine is a prescription only medication
and must come from your vet. How well the animal will respond is dependant upon the
severity of the disease at the time the animal was treated. The recommended dosage
according to the "Goat Medicine" book is 10 mg/kg b.w. repeated every 6 hours for
24 hours. It is recommended that the initial dose be given intravenously and the
rest given under the skin or in the muscle.
You need to be careful on the dosage because the thiamine comes in different strengths
and the cc's given change according to the bottle you get.
Here is a link to info on understanding how to convert medicine to proper dosage.
Thiamine and Penicillin. I usually give 10cc SQ of Penicillin, and 10cc oral of
Penicillin on day one, to kill the bad bacteria. As for the thiamine, I give 1 gram
as a first dose: 500mg SQ, and 500mg IM. The SQ takes longer to work but sustains
the blood levels longer. On day 2, I restart the rumen with Calf Pac, and continue
the Thiamin each day until the goat is well.
(comment by Jack Mauldin --- the concept of Coni's treatment is that something in
the rumen is wrong. The penicillin given orally is to kill whatever bacteria is in
the rumen to start it over. The killing of the bacteria in the rumen is also killing
the good bacteria needed and that is being replaced by the Thiamine and calf pac.
The calf pac can be replaced by Probios)
Another recommendation that uses vitamin B1 instead of Thiamine.
The dosage for B1 (thiamine) is 500 mg per 100 weight every six hours, so check any
B vit. to make sure you give your goat enough of the B1, and as you say overdosing
will not hurt them, they urinate out what they don't need. Usually have to give this
amount, every six hours, for a week at least. Sometimes improvement is immediate
and sometimes it takes at least a week. Consider keeping Fortified B on hand at all
times because vet may not have Thiamine. Fortified B has 100 mg per cc of B1 in it.
It can be given orally but the first day but I inject under the skin to make sure
they get enough.
Any time the goat's rumen gets upset, goat polio can happen. Consider worming and
give penicillin (5cc per 100 lb. weight) just in case it is Listerosis and will
give penicillin once a day for five days, give a probiotic (Probios or even a yogurt
with live culture) to make the rumen more efficient.