Foot Abscess 'Sweerklou'

Foot Abscess ‘Sweerklou’



Foot abscess (‘sweerklou’) is a significant problem on many Angora farms leading to the loss in condition, loss in mohair and reproductive performance. The term ‘sweerklou’ or ‘foot abscess’ is often confused with ‘footrot’’ vrotpootjie’ which is a different condition effecting the hooves of the goat.


The reason that the joint is so susceptible to infection and abscess formation is that on the interdigital aspect the joint capsule protrudes (dorsal and volar pouches) above the coronary (hoof) border. At these sites the joint capsule is only protected by the interdigital skin and minimal amount of subcutaneous tissue.

The infection causing the foot abscess enters through the disruption of the skin and entry into the joint capsule due to:

  • Mouthparts of ticks Rhipicephalis glabroscutatem (smooth brown tick) and R. simus (glossy brown tick) as well as Ambyomma (bont tick) and Hyalomma (bont legged tick) species.
  • Softening of the interdigital skin after rain predisposes the skin to injury and the hoof sink deeper into soft soil causes abrasion of skin by soil particles.
  • Thorn penetration of skin around hooves
  • Grass seed penetration.

Clinical signs

The symptoms are obvious in terms of lameness. Initially the foot becomes warm to the touch and is painful if pressure applied.

 The swelling then develops above the hoof margins. The digit is markedly swollen and can burst open with discharging pus.

If a severe septic arthritis develops the effected joint will often never fully recover due to the arthritic changes caused by the infection.

 Treatment and control


Treatment is frustrating and antibiotic penetration into the site of infection is limited due to the encapsulated nature of the abscess. Antibiotic combinations and anti-inflammatories are also used with mixed response. Individual animals the abscess can be lanced and flushed but this is not viable when treating a flock.

The key element to controlling foot abscess is control the ticks.

Preventive methods used by farmers: (based primarily on tick control)

  1. Footbaths with tick control (dip), 5-10% Zinc sulphate and 5% formalin footbaths.
  • Cypermethrin: Maxi-cyp 20% 1ml/litre water
  • Copper sulphate OR Zinc Sulphate: 5g/litre water
  • Formalin diluted to make 5% solution (dilution depends on initial strength. Eg. 40% solution: 1 litre in 8 litres water would make 5% solution)
  1. Pour on tick treatments applied between hooves.

Example Amipour or Delete All ( Both have 2 actives for tick treatment)




Treatment options used by farmers:

  1. ISOLATE effected.
  2. Long acting Antibiotic (Repeat after 4 days for min 2 treatments)

(1ml/10kg intramuscular inj, repeated after 4 days)

  1. LA antibiotic as (2) with an anti-inflammatory in acute cases.

(1ml per 33kg i/m)

  1. Footbaths with combinations of 10% Zinc Sulphate, Tick treatment (dip) and Kerol Veterinary Fluid 1ml/litre water) or 5% formalin. (Dilutions as above)


Effect of vaccination on Foot Abscess outbreaks.

SAMGA is currently busy with a trial that has to date shown very promising results.

Objective of the trial:

  • Determine if vaccinating Angora goats reduces the incidence of foot abscess occurrence in a flock where Corynebacterium ovis and Actinomyces pyogene are administered.
  • The names of the bacteria have changed over the years as indicated below:
  • Corynebacterium ovis
  1. pseudotuberculosis


  • Corynebacterium pyogenes

                                Actinomyces pyogenes

                   Acranobacterium pyogenes

                                 Trueperella pyogenes


  • A flock of Angora goat ewes(305) and kids (315) used in the study
  • The flock was randomly divided into:
  • Kids (158 vaccinated/157 control)
  • Ewes (153 vaccinated/153 control)


  • The VACCINATION groups of 158 kids and 153 ewe  marked with  ear tags
  • Vaccinate tagged goats with vaccine following manufacturer’s recommendations

Corynebacterium 2ml s/c both ewes and lambs

Actinomyces 2ml s/c for kids and 5ml s/c for ewes


Both the control and vaccinated ewes and kids were then put through a foot dip containing Kerol Veterinary fluid) diluted 1ml/litre water, Swavet CuSO4 500g/100litre water and Maxi-Cyp 20% (Cypermethrin).


Normal preventative weekly/alternate weekly footbaths were continued during the trial.


Results to date:


  • To date 23 goats have been identified with confirmed foot abscess and isolated.
  • The abscess have been cultured by Onderstepoort biological products.
  • ALL 23 OF EFFECTED GOATS (January 2015) were UNVACCINATED. NO goats from vaccinated group have to date developed foot abscess. So hopefully this trial continues this trend.

A final report will follow at the end of the Summer 2015.


Dr Mackie Hobson

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