Escherichia coli (E.coli)
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Sunday, 26th June 2016

Coli is a bacterium with a great number of serotypes of which only certain are pathogenic. The main disease condition caused by E.coli in Angora goats include:

  • Diarrhoea and septicaemia (usually under intensive conditions) - Kids usually under 2 weeks of age.

The septicaemia being much more common.

  • Miliary abscess formation has been diagnosed in young Angora rams that have been fed concentrate diets.

 How do Angora kids and young goats become infected?

Transmission usually occurs by faecal oral route.

In the young Angora ram kids that developed miliary (E. coli) abscess’ the origin of this infection was likely to be from the digestive tract rather than the umbilicus. The umbilical venous blood flow in the foetus flows through the liver and does not disperse into it while that from the GIT disperses into the liver.

This infection may have arisen from possible subclinical acidosis leading to the E.Coli entering the blood stream.

                            Abscess formation in the liver of Angora rams kids caused by E.coli


.Clinical signs:

The disease is acute and death within 1-3 days in young kids.

Kids may show:

  • incoordination,
  • recumbency,
  • opisthotonus (head pulled back) and leg paddling movements.


In the cases where abscess formation occurred the main clinical finding was the weight loss and mild ascites.




Post Mortem:

 Liver cut open to show abscess formation.       The spleen with E.coli abscess formation


Post Mortem findings are often unspecific in young kids with the septiceamic form of E.coli infection.

  • Dehydration
  • Hind quarter often soiled from d+
  • Congestion of SI with grey-yellow content.
  • Mesenteric lymph nodes enlarged and oedematous.
  • Congestion and oedema of lung



  • History and clinical signs
  • Sections of intestinal tract for bacterial identification and culture.
  • Histopathology

Treatment and control


  • Ensure kids have colostrum intake
  • Correct dehydration (stomach tube rehydration fluids)
  • Intestinal protectants, probiotics
  • As colisepticeamia more common in kids - treat with ‘purbac’ (trimethoprim/sulphonamide).

Vaccines registered by OBP for sheep are available.

Ewes are injected 10 and 6 weeks before kidding if not previously vaccinated and then a booster each year prior to kidding.



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