Oh no, my goat has an abscess!

How to diagnosis and treat caseous lymphadenitis, a chronic disease affecting mainly sheep and goats.

Caseous lymphadenitis (CL) is a chronic, contagious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. This disease is also called pseudotuberculosis, or often “abscesses”, and is known as the curse of the goat industry throughout the world. The prevalence of CL in the commercial goat herds may be as high as 30 percent. If abscesses affect more than one lymph node, the carcass will be condemned at slaughter. Decreased body weight and milk production also occurs, and reproductive efficiency is often lower when these animals have developed internal abscesses.


  • Presence of a firm to slightly soft subcutaneous swelling in the location of a lymph node.
  • Herd history of CL.
  • Culture: Aspiration of the swelling and sending it to the diagnostic lab for isolating and identifying the organism.
  • Serology: A blood test is available for this disease, but vaccinated animals will test positive.


  • Separate and isolate the affected animals.
  • Lance and flush ripened abscesses with 7 percent iodine solution.
  • Flush the pus down a drain, or collect and burn it.

A vaccine is available and should be considered in management of CL in infected herds. The vaccine may cause severe reactions in infected animals and also interferes with serologic testing for CL. Michigan State University Extension recommends consulting your veterinarian if you think you have a CL problem in your herd or flock.

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