Lungworm, How to deal with itThis is a featured page

More often than one can imagine, I get input from goat owners s LUNGWORM, How to Recognize and Treat it By Sue Reith
I often get input from goat owners such as the following: ”My doe looks and acts completely healthy, but she has this dry cough that won't seem to go away. Her temperature is normal, her rumen function is great, her eyes and coat are healthy, and there’s no discharge from her nose. She just has this dry cough and sometimes she does it 7 or 8 times in a row. I’ve wormed her with Ivomec, Safeguard, and Hoeggers herbal wormer, but she’s still coughing. My sister told me that she house-sat recently for some people with ‘fainters’. They had one that coughed constantly like mine, and nothing was wrong with it either. The breeder has one that coughs all the time, too, but otherwise it seems perfectly healthy.So is it possible that mine is just a coughing goat?”

A continuous dry cough in a goat that’s otherwise not sick is generally a symptom of lungworm. You’re entirely right in wanting to treat it. The fact that goats in other people's herds have an ongoing dry cough doesn't mean it's OK!It simply means they have lungworm! There are actually 2 species of lungworm common to goats, Dictyocaulus filaria, and Muellerius capillaris. But while they both respond to the same treatment, the Muellerius capillaris is a very tiny worm that imbeds itself in the lung tissue and doesn’t generally cause problems. OTOH, the Dictyocaulus filaria is a much larger worm, and unfortunately it matures in the air passages of the host. If left untreated, eventually it will scar the lung tissue, and after a while the constant lung irritation will cause bouts of pneumonia as well. The pneumonia can be brought under control with penicillin the first time or so, but if the lungworm isn’t dealt with right away, eventually the lungs will become irreversibly damaged and the goat will die. Ivermectin, Safeguard and Hoeggers' Herbal Wormer are not effective against lungworm. It’s easily treated with injectable levamisol, which the AASRP (Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners) research found to be the most effective approach.

A common problem in identifying lungworm so you’ll know whether or not to treat for it is that when the owner takes a fecal sample to a veterinarian to examine the eggs won’t show up on the slide, so the vet will tell you the goat is ‘clean’. But that won’t actually be the case, since lungworm eggs are already partially embryonated when they pass out of the host, making them heavier than the eggs of other types of worms and causing them to sink below the normal field of visibility to the bottom of the slidewhere they can’t be seen. Therefore, the only reliable test for lungworm is a Baermann's test, which is difficult to perform and very expensive. So in my view, it’s best to skip the time and expense of a fecal test and just treat with the levamisol, and if the coughing stops you’ll know that's what it was!
After the first treatment the animal should stop coughing, because you’ve wiped out the adults that are causing the lung irritation. But as is the case with worms in general, the wormer ONLY kills the adult lungworm, leaving eggs and larvae behind, untouched. The reproductive cycle is around 14 days from the time the egg is laid, passes thru the larval stage, becomes an adult, and lays more eggs, starting the same problem all over again. So it’s very important to worm 3 times in a row, allowing ten days between each dose. Should you not do this, the egg and larval stages will still be there and you will have not eliminated the problem. And, the good news is that even if the coughing doesn’t stop after all this effort, you’ll still have the most parasite-free goats in the neighborhood, because in addition to being effective against lungworm, levamisol is also an excellent all around general wormer for most other worms as well (the exception to that being Liver fluke, tapeworm and pinworm).
Levamisol (Levasol, Levamisole) is NOT a prescription item. It comes in a liquid injectable form as well as a bolus. The 100ml liquid form seems to have recently been discontinued in favor of a 500ml bottle, so if you can find a 100ml bottle out there, grab it!The injectable levamisol should be given subcutaneously, at the regular dose of 2cc/100 lbs. Doubling or tripling the dose in goats is not necessary,and in fact if done during pregnancy canreportedly cause abortion.
Addendum: In the past few years we've had an as-yet unnamed virus going around, spread usually from goat show to goat show via the show circuit. For lack of a better name, or an ID either, it's been labeled the "ick", and its only symptom, as with lungworm, is a 'dry cough'. The way one determines which is which is by treating with levamisol. If the cough disappears, that's that.If not, it may be that so-called 'Ick' virus, which, like all viruses, will have to run its course. To speed that up, and to prevent secondary bacterial infections from getting a foothold in the weakened goat's system, BoSe should be given at frequent intervals to stimulate the victim's immune system, which BTW, is the only way to get rid of a viral infection.
Add’l information: I’ve dealt with this same problem in dogs and cats. The treatment is the same for all.
(WhileI urge youto share this information with other individual goat owners, please do not reproduce the article or any part thereof for publication without my specific permission.) Sue Reith.


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