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· Registered
185 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading up on CAE and have some questions. I've looked through the posts and on the internet but am still confused on a few things.

If you test for CAE and get a positive result it doesn't mean your goat has CAE, but was just exposed - does that mean that the CAE positive goat can give CAE to another goat? I've read about false-positives, how long do you wait to retest?

I've read several people say they keep CAE goats with no problems (packers). If they don't develop signs by a certain age are they probably okay and won't develop CAE?

We have two six year old Togs who were blood tested for CL and came back negative but now we need to do the CAE test (I was thinking of getting rid of them as we have several yearlings coming up and wanted to be sure of the test before I advertise). They are in a herd of CAE free goats (came from clean, tested yearly - I trust them farms). If these two Togs are CAE positive, and we have no milkers will they probably be fine OR would you immediately cull out the Togs? What if I had clean 'does' and have babies in the future?

I guess my biggest thing is with the false-positive test - do you immediately separate and then re-test or do you not worry so much if you aren't doing any milking?


· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
4,806 Posts
Those are some great questions. Going to as good of answers as possible.

A little back ground. I started out on a commercial farm as a farm hand about 15 years ago. My other half almost 20 years ago. We spent the entire time there putting into place and then following strick CAE and CL prevention programs. We left that farm almost 4 years ago now and still maintain a strict program as we still have 3 retired foundation does living out their lives in comfort.

Before we start, a good thing to know is that CAE is a retrovirus and is closely linked to but not the same as the HIV virus. With the HIV virus you have that and then you have AIDS. With CAE you have that and then you have "Clinical" CAE. At anytime an infected animal can go clinical. A very well managed animal will have a much better chance to remain pre clinical. When we moved out to this farm, we originally had 6 CAE positive foundation does. 3 have died of old age and of the 3 we have left, the youngest is 9 years old. None of them ever showed any sign of CAE.

So to begin, YES if you test and get a positive or elevated teeter count, you should assume the animals test is not a false positive and separate the animal from the rest of your herd. We keep the "positive" pen 50 feet away from the other does and they never get to leave their pen. Because just like with HIV, a positive CAE animal is infected and cant infect other animals. If a wound is opened on the infected animal, say by butting heads and another animal say does the bucky thing and blubbers its tongue on the wound, contamination is very likely. Drinking from the same water source is also another area for infection but highly unlikely. So, if you get a positive test back, most places will allow you to retest within a month to confirm the correctness of the first test. Do it.

As to other animals possibly being infected, I would separate out the positive, and then test everything. You want to test right away because like HIV, CAE can lay dormant for up to a year but most likey 6 months as the teeter levels get to a high enough point for the test to read them. So you then want to test again in 6 months and then again at the 1 year mark. We test twice a year here simply because there are still positive animals on the farm. Even though there is no interaction, it no only gives peace of mind but is the right thing to do. I applaud you for taking the time and effort to make sure you are offering a negative goat.

Babies are a whole different story. Pasteurizing milk kills the CAE virus but there are still anti bodies that pass through into the kids. So if you are feeding pasteurized positive milk (I know your not but just covering all the facts) you should wait at least 6 months from weaning before you CAE test them as they will have a higher teeter count and give the "false positive" people talk about. In all the years on the commercial farm, this is the only area we have gotten false positive test results. We did get elevated counts on adult does, but they always tested positive when testing again late. This is why adult false positives should be treated as positive.

An interesting fact about babies outta CAE positive does: As long as you are there at the time of the birth to take control of the kid AND that kid was / is still in the birth sack, you can take that kid inside and bath it. We like Dawn anti bacterial dish soap. Wash it completely making sure to keep its mouth outta the water and cleaning off all birth fluids, you will have a great chance at having a negative kid. In all our years, we have never had a kid turn out positive from a positive dam when pulled and washed. BUT if by chance the kid is free floating out of the sack, you should automatically that it is infected and separate it.

Now in your case, with your confidence with where you obtained your animals, it would seem your test is more for piece of mind and being able to show proof of clean animals and that is a great thing. Here we never offer anything for sale that hasnt been tested. Its just good business.
So I wouldnt worry to much about false positives until the time comes and you are forced to do so. The testing now is leaps and bounds better then we first started and super reliable. Id do the tests and not worry in the mean time. :) Good Luck

· Registered
1,020 Posts
Just to clarify a point in Dave's comment above, if you pull the kid and heat treat the milk from a positive doe you can kill the virus and make the milk safe for the kid to drink. However, the elevated CAE antibodies in the milk from the infected doe will give you a false positive with the kid who is drinking the milk. As Dave said, we like to wait six month to a year after the kid is completely weaned to make sure we get an accurate test. By then the elevated antibody count from the milk is gone. Of course having all negative does is the best way to go but you can still raise some good kids from positive does with the steps outlined by Dave above.

There is a good article on the types of CEA tests in the Health Care Article section on this forum.
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