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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am just getting started into packgoating, and have been fortunate enough to run into a few folks selling some experienced packers for very reasonable prices. Some have been tested CAE free and others are CAE positive, but not showing symptoms. What are my risks with housing the two groups together? Can the CAE positive wethers transmit it to the CAE free ones? Should I house and pasture them seperately? if so, how will they relate with each other on the trail if they dont get the chance to sociallize at home? do i increase the chance of a CAE transfer if I transport them in the same trailer? what about them butting each other with scurs, can they sometimes bleed? I know it is most often passed through mothers milk, but what are other common ways it is transmitted? Does anyone else outhere have mixed herds like this or am i just asking for trouble?
 

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Hello,

CAE is a multi factor disease. You have to take into consideration a lot of things:

- immune status of the positive animals: having tested positive means first and foremost that they have had contact with the virus and have developed antibodies against it. How high is the antibody count? High counts are more cause of concern than low counts - meaning that the virus was active a short while ago and the immune system had to battle it.

- many positive tested animals never develop full blown CAE. Their body will hold the virus in check all of their lives.

- stress and poor housing, management, health care will increase the risk of the CAE becoming active. Some therapies that are supposed to boost the immune system can cause the virus to flare up.

Is this an already established herd you're talking about or are you planning to form a new herd? The last would relate to stress (moving, transport, settling into a new herd, new management, rank fights for weeks) and would increase the risk for the positive animals to develop - at least - a higher antibody count for several months because their immune system can get overwhelmed now and the virus can flare up.
 

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CAE is a virus, which as you said is most often transmitted from mother to kid via the milk. It can also be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluid. Casual encounters between positive and negative goats poses no serious risk of transmission but it is possible. Long term cohabitation, where they are bumping bloody heads, sneezing on each other, smelling urine streams and nibbling grass around other goats feces may pose a greater risk. Having said that I can not come up with a single case I personally know of where a negative goat became positive by co-mingling. Still, as rare as it is, I would not take that risk.
 

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If you are just starting out it;'s much better not to start with problems.Those inexpensive goats may look like a deal but can be a source of heartbreak later if they don't work out. Better to start with a healthy herd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sound advice. Thanks.

But just so I know, and can make an educated decision, what would be a responsible CAE managment system? My plan right now is to have two groups of goats; my young pretrain bucklings that I will raise up from the bottle (they of course will all be CAE free for sure) and then an older group of already trained goats that will alow me to be packing through the years that I am training the young ones. As I will have less time invested into the older crew, I am just trying to weigh the risk of having some of them being CAE positive.

As Im sure there are exceptions to most any rule, I have chatted with several individuals over the last few months that have packed goats for years, but either say they just dont bother worrying about CAE or that they just know and are aware that some of their animals have it. They say they just keep an eye out for the signs. One place I even took the chance to visit, and they told me that out of dozens of goats they had had over the years, all from the same original CAE positive lineage (and though they had bottle fed, they had not pasturized the milk before feeding to kids, so they had just assumed that the majority of their herd was positive), all had packed routinely in the hills, packed out elk etc, only 2 or 3 had ever manifested signs of the disease, and in all cases the goats were over the age of 8 before they showed. Now, certainly I feel I want a bit more proactive approach to the problem than they had, but that is why I am trying to figure out how much of a potential problem I want to deal with. Knowledge is power I guess, and Im looking for as much of it as I can on the subject, even though I am finding some conflicting views. So specifically, would I need to pen the CAE free goats away from the positive ones for maximum protection? and if that is my best course of action (if of course I go with some CAE positive goats) then how do I let them associate and train together? how much bonding time will goats need with each other off the trail in order to work well with each other on the trail?
 

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I’ll throw my 2 cents in.

The possibility of lateral transmission of CAE is one of those issues where you will find widely differing views.

“So specifically, would I need to pen the CAE free goats away from the positive ones for maximum protection? and if that is my best course of action (if of course I go with some CAE positive goats) then how do I let them associate and train together? how much bonding time will goats need with each other off the trail in order to work well with each other on the trail?â€

I’d don’t think there is any practical way to have a sometimes mixed CAE positive herd and not have at least some risk (perhaps quite small) of transmission of the disease. Either you choose to take a chance with CAE positive goats or not.

“… have been fortunate enough to run into a few folks selling some experienced packers for very reasonable prices. Some have been tested CAE free and others are CAE positive, but not showing symptoms.â€

In a mixed CAE positive - negative herd, even the ones which tested negative now, may be carriers and test positive in the future.

A few years ago we bought a 3 year-old packgoat from another goat packing person. The goat had originally come from a breeder who had a CAE prevention program. He packed well for us for about a year, but on one pack trip when he was about 4 years old he had trouble standing up after a rest stop. When we got home we had him tested and found out he was CAE positive…end of his packing career. We did not see any symptoms to that point.

It really comes down to your choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"In a mixed CAE positive - negative herd, even the ones which tested negative now, may be carriers and test positive in the future.

A few years ago we bought a 3 year-old packgoat from another goat packing person. The goat had originally come from a breeder who had a CAE prevention program. He packed well for us for about a year, but on one pack trip when he was about 4 years old he had trouble standing up after a rest stop. When we got home we had him tested and found out he was CAE positive…end of his packing career. We did not see any symptoms to that point."
Well that kind of makes it sound like it doesnt really matter what I do; It sounds like I could just as easily spend hundreds more on goats from CAE free herds and still wind up with a fluke that tests positive sometime down the road? Or Even if I have my goats tested before I buy them, and go to all the expense of doing the tests and everything, and then buy the goats based on the negative results of the test; Then there is still a chance I could end up with a Positive goat later on down the road? Not that I am one of them, but I guess I can kind of see why some packers just dont care anymore and dont even bother to check. So if there are some cases where a positive animal will never show symptoms, and some cases where a negative animal will show symptoms, where do I go from here? If we are comparing risk levels here, it seems like the relatively remote chance that an adult wether can pass it to another adult wether is no greater a risk than just buying all CAE free goats only to find out years down the road that the test was wrong, or somehow they just ended up with it. What am I missing here?
 

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JRT said:
What am I missing here?
you're missing that for the label "CAE-free herd" or, more correctly, no suspicion of CAE, a herd has to be tested for three years in a row and the tests will also have to be repeated every year for the rest of the goats lives to monitor the CAE status.

Why does it take three years (here in Germany, Switzerland, etc.) to get the status "no CAE suspected"? Some goats can seroconvert after the first or maybe the second testing.

Goats born to positive mothers and raised on the mother that are tested at a young age can show false positives (from antibodies of the mother) or seroconvert later. You'll get reliable results when testing at age 6 months or older (and then repeat after 6 months, then after 1 year and so on).

One test (not the ELISA) is more prone to give false results.

The tests are not black and white, there's a gray area in between where the test can only tell "suspicious" and the next test can be negative or positive.

Goats that have contact to sheep that carry the Maedi/Visna-Virus can have false positive results because the ELISA can't distinguish between these two antibodies. These goats have antibodies against Maedi/Visna but ELISA will show they are CAE positive.

And one thing we've experienced here in Germany for the last two years: having goats tested for CAE within a certain period after vaccination against bluetongue (had a major outbreak in 2007) will cause a false positive CAE-test (ELISA).

So one test will not give you accurate and reliable results. CAE prevention is an ongoing process. That means, if you buy from a breeder who says he/she runs a CAE prevention program, ask detailed questions about HOW the program is run and the testing conducted.

And problems with the muscosceletal system don't have to always be caused by CAE - there are other causes, too.

If I had a negative animal showing muscosceletal or general symptoms that resemble CAE I would look at other causes: injuries, arthritis, nerve damage, lack of trace minerals and minerals, poisonings, cancer.
 

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JRT,

Sorry that my comments were confusing. In my story about our pack goat that turned out to be CAE positive, I may have made it too brief. We don’t know where he got CAE. He had three homes before we got him. I should have explained that “CAE prevention program†did not mean a CAE free herd…it’s simply that the breeders were confident that they could manage the situation with a mixed CAE positive herd, so CAE would not be passed to the kids. I don’t know if he got CAE because of a failure in their system, or someplace else.

I was trying to provide my experience in hopes that it would be helpful to you in your decision about how you want to handle the risk related to CAE. I hope the additional details help.
 

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i have several generations of negative CAE tests on my does and bucks and wethers so would consider that I have a CAE free herd. If there are no CAE positive animals around to catch it from they woun't have it.
 

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I was doing web research on this, and found an interesting site:

http://www.cornerstonefarm.net/gtcareof.html#caeq&a

It is a long page so scroll down to the CAE Q&A.

There also seems to be a benefit in drinking milk from CAE infected animals for people with HIV. And it may act as a vaccine against HIV. Apparently drinking the milk can also give you false positives on the HIV tests.
 

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Barb at CornerStone Farm, LLC has given us permission to cross-post the info here. Originally, I didn't have the bookmark in the link which made it painful to find on the long page, but it takes you right to it now.
 

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Some comments on the Cornerstone Farm info. Why anyone would reccommend the AGID over the ELISA escapes me. THe AGID is notoriously unreliable, up to over 40%. WSU is at the forefront of CAE research and their test is 98% accurate. WSU has a fact sheet on their website about CAE which is also reprinted in Practical Goatpacking, Field First Aid for Goats and I believe on the NAPgA website.

It recommends testing regimens and frequencies and gives a great overview of the disease and how it is transmitted. THe common ways for lateral transmission are things like multiple uses of needles, head butt games, clippers and anything that involves blood to blood transmission. CAE is a fragile virus and only lives outside the body for about 3 seconds outside of optimum temperature and moisture boundaries. So even with shared water buckets the possibility of transmission is so rare as to be unheard of.
 
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