Neurological Signs in Angora Goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Monday, 26th November 2018

Neurological signs in Angora goats are not uncommon in many of the disease processes. The similarities in these clinical signs make it very difficult to determine the underlying cause.

Alphabetical order (NOT importance)

1. Abscess -Spinal

May result in posterior paralysis, goat attempts to drag its hindquarters

2. Abscess -Brain

May result in circling, deviation or rotation of the head. Drooping of an ear or eye, different pupil sizes

3. Border disease- ‘Hairy shaker disease’

In kids -muscle tremors, more hind quarters but can also effect head and neck. Spastic convulsions, ataxia and unable to stand. See

4. Cynanchum (Bobbejaantou)

Occurs along coastal regions in cattle and sheep. Tremble, stagger. Stand with wide based stance, legs often crossed. Develop to lie and undergo siezures, legs extend, head is between legs or pulled back (opithotonus). Lips are drawn back and mouth closed, paddling legs.

5. Domsiekte

Although a metabolic disease of hypoglycaemia causes neurological type symptoms due to the effect on the brain. The ewe may appear blind, wander aimlessly,Sometimes tremors of facial muscles may occur. See

6. ‘Draaisiekte’ Coenuriosis, Taenia multiceps

Caused by Coenurus cerebralis the intermediate stage of the Tapeworm Taenia multiceps. Depression, aimless wandering, blindness, convulsions (usually develop slowly). Head held high or to one side. Goats may circle, stumble

7. ‘Eenjarige-raaigrasvergiftiging’

Winter rainfall areas of the Cape and usually sheep and cattle. When disturbed  wont get up and appear ‘dom’. Some will walk with stiff legs. Severely effected animals may lie down, may develop convulsions, paddle with legs, head pulled back to one side, eyes flicker (nystagmus)

8. Enzootic abortion (Chlamydiosis)

Newly born weak kids can show neurological signs including shivering/tremors. See

9. Euphorbia mauritanica (melkbos)

Increased muscle tone and tremors. Reluctamnt to stand or stand with back arched, stiff legs and legs splayed. Legs can be flexed with ease. See

10. ‘Floppy Kid’ syndrome- Hepatic lipidosis

Floppy kid syndrome is a metabolic condition leading to hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver) -similar to ‘Domsiekte’ which produces neurological like symptoms. Kid’s wobbly legs (ataxia) and collapse. There is NO tail twitching or short choppy gate that can sometimes be seen in Polioencephalomalacia (Vit B1 defficiency) or Pulpy kidney.  See

11. FSE (Focal symmetrical encephalomalacia). Chronic Enterotoxeamia (Pulpy Kidney)

Toxins liberated by Clostridium perfringens D which has a strong affinity for vascular endothelium causing brain oedema and sometimes haemorrhage.

Clinical signs include: Unable to stand, paddling with legs, opisthotonus.

Those that can walk are incoordinated, dull, lethargic and may head press.  May appear apparently blind and have drooped ears. May walk in circles.

This results in 3 clinical pictures: 1.Acute convulsions (majority cases). 2. Head retraction. 3. Lethargy without any obvious neurological signs before dying.


12. Heartwater

The first signs are a poor appetite, lethargy, fever, lagging behind the flock and as the condition deteriorates the goat can have difficulty breathing and may stand with its tongue protruding, bleat, the tail and eyelids can twitch and usually lies down. Chewing movements can sometimes be seen. The goat starts paddling with its leg and its head pulls back before dying. See

13. Karoo-bosluisverlamming (Karoo paralysis tick)

Usually Feb-May. Goats may become paralysed in their hindquarters or just show ataxia when chased. See

14. ‘Krimpsiekte’ Cardiac Glycoside poisoning

Severely affected goats may be unable to chew or swallow, lower jaw hangs. When chased tire easily. Trembling of lips, trembling muscles. The neck can be turned and may have difficulty holding head up. See

15. Listeriosis

Clinical signs may include circling, depression, unilateral facial paralysis, fall to one side


16. Medicines

Anthemintic (worm) doses

Roundworm treatments  containing Rafoxanide and Closantel (Group 4 and found in some combinations) can potentially cause blindness in Angora goats if overdosed.

Trials indicated that kid’s dose at 4x the therapeutic dose went blind.

Kids not affected too badly recovered over 3-4 weeks


Levamisole toxicity

Amongst other signs nervous symptoms: miosis (contraction of the pupil), spasms, cramps, trembling can be seen


Ivermection toxicity

The following neurological toxicity symptoms may occur: Ataxia (uncoordinated movements),Hypermetria (excessive or disproportionate movements), Disorientation, Hyperesthesia (excessive reaction to tactile stimuli),Tremors, Mydriasis (dilatation of the pupils),Become recumbent, Depression, Blindness. For more info see

17. Polioencephalomalacia (Thiamine deficiency, Vit B1)

Common and important disease in goats

Severely affected lie on side, nystagmus (flickering of eyelids), opisthotonus (head pulled back), convulsions.

Less severely affected goats: can stand with assistance, left alone circle or fall over or adopt a ‘dog sitting’ or ‘star gazing’ appearance.

Mild forms may be reflected in blindness


18. Spongiform leukoencephalopathy

Rapidly progressing posterior paralysis and flaccid paralysis (presumed to be inherited)

19. Prusic acid poisoning ‘Geilsiekte ‘

Difficult breathing and shiver, shivering increases until seizures. See

20. Rabies

Goats may appear blind, Aggression 54%. Behavioural changes 35%.Difficulty in swallowing 30%.Biting foreign objects 30%.Abnormal vocalisation 30%,Chasing chickens, cattle, other animals 27%.Salivation 16%, Bit human, other animal 14%,Paralysis, paresis 11%,Central nervous system disorder, confused, “crazy” 8%. Are amonst other signs.  See website

21. Rift Valley fever Virus -Flav virus infections

Ewes effected while pregnant may produce kids that are unable to stand and may lie with legs straight ahead and behind. Or may lie on side and able to lift head and neck.

22. Sarcostemma vivinale (melktou)

Hypersensitive, muscle tremors and spasms. Unsteady stiff gait, uncoordinated. Lie on side making galloping motions, head is pulled back or down, back arched and legs stiff. See

23. Spring lamb paralysis tick

Tick paralysis is an acute, progressive, symmetrical, ascending motor paralysis. See

24. Swayback (Copper deficiency)

Ataxia of hind limbs of kids. May be affected at birth or develop ataxia up to 5 months old.

25. Spinal Trauma

This is usually seen in rams that have been fighting, signs may range from ataxia to paresis

26. Selenium deficiency

Slow and stiff gait. In severe cases of deficiency it is possible to develop congenital white muscle disease. Kids may be born dead or die after birth as the kid is unable to suckle. Delayed white muscle disease is possible under severe deficiencies where clinical signs may be seen at about 2-6 weeks of age. Walk with stiff gait, arched back and nervous signs can be seen before death.  See

27. Ureumvergiftiging , Urea poisoning

Neurological signs seen include, shivering, staggering and stumble.Tetany signs developing into a coma before death. See

28. ‘Vermeersiekte’

Stiffness, begin shaking. May go lie down due to paralysis. See

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