Meningoencephalitis (bacterial) in Angora goat kids
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Sunday, 24th October 2021

Deaths in young (approximately a month old) Angora kids have occurred where they have been kept under intensive conditions with their mothers.

Clinical signs:

  • Depression,
  • Ataxia (wobbly), trying to walk on knees,
  • Anorexia (not eating/drinking),
  • Vocalisation (bleating)
  • Pyrexia (running a temperature) (40.2C).


See the video of advanced clinical signs below:



In ruminants, generally, bacterial infections are more common than other causes of meningitis or encephalitis. In this case, a diagnosis of Purulent MENINGOENCEPHALITIS was made.

In this case of Angora kid deaths, a gram stain was done to identify the pathogens. The stain detected the presence of gram-negative rods compatible with gram-negative bacteria, with the most common pathogen being E.Coli (less likely Salmonellosis).


What other conditions can this be confused with in kids?

  • Polioencephalomalacia (softening of the brain) caused by Thiamine Vit B1 deficiency

  • Floppy Kid Syndrome (Hepatic lipidosis)


Where did the infection (E.Coli) come from?

In neonatal (soon after birth) kids, the likely source would be through contamination of the umbilical cord, which would also explain the kidney being affected.

However, these kids were a month old, so that the likely source would be the faecal-oral route. This would be through an environment contaminated by faeces which would then be picked up by the kids when suckling on teats contaminated by soil/faeces or direct oral intake by the kids.

Interestingly on this farm, the deaths occurred in 3 adjoining land/camps, and no deaths had occurred amongst the ‘hansies’, which were bottle-fed.



Appropriate use of antibiotics, according to culture or serology results, is often required. Relapses are common, and prolonged therapy is often necessary.

Antibacterial drugs that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier should be used. These include ampicillin, metronidazole, tetracyclines, potentiated sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones. Higher than normal dosages may be necessary to achieve and maintain adequate concentrations in the CNS.

Supportive treatment will also be required.



Where infection from the umbilicus has occurred, it is vital to ensure kids are getting colostrum intake and the navels are disinfected after birth.

With older kids, the oral faecal contamination environmental factors need to be corrected.


Post mortem:

On post Mortem and histopathology, a diagnosis of PURULENT MENINGOENCEPHALITIS was made. Intracellular organisms were evident within the macrophages of the meninges of the brain. The liver and kidneys also showed signs of inflammation.

Meningitis, encephalitis, and encephalomyelitis are terms used to describe inflammatory conditions of the meninges, brain, or brain and spinal cord. These inflammatory processes frequently occur concurrently, and we use the terms meningoencephalitis and meningoencephalomyelitis.


Has this occurred before in this age group?

An outbreak of caprine meningoencephalitis due to Escherichia coli has been reported in 1-month-old kid goats, which developed neurological disorders characterized by decreased appetite, ataxia, and head pressing. Microscopic results showed acute meningoencephalitis. Additionally, the kidney also showed an inflammatory response.



  • Dr Liza du Plessis IdexxLaboratories, Gallo Manor
  • MSD Veterinary manual
  • An outbreak of caprine meningoencephalitis due to Escherichia coli O157:H7

             George Filioussis1, Evanthia Petridou, Emmanouel Karavanis, .


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