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Sore Mouth
Sore Mouth  
Very nice to meet you. I have been on-line often to get the answers I need. I also have contacted 3 or more vets. I am a dog breeder of Scottish Terriers and I also show them and have for almost 30 years. I live in Pepperell , Ma. I have had two Nubian goats in the past and lost them to old age. No health issues with them.  I just recently adopted 2 yearling Nigerian does. I have had them for almost 3 months. As soon as a week after getting them one of them started itching and biting itches.and soon after , started with scabs on her nostrils and then her chin. Very thick scabs. her eyes also seem to be a bit weepy and sore like. I believe, after a lot of research, that she has developed "Sore Mouth".  No vet has diagnosed her. by the time I finished my research, she was over most of it. She is still itchy and her eyes are still a little weepy but new coat is starting to grow in. She is starting to look a lot better. She never stopped eating, (she is kind of a chow hound).
I have not been able to get a vet here. I have another 3 people to call. I want to get health checks on them along with worming and any other needed inoculations . Have you heard how well the shot works that is specifically for sore? I am taking on the twins of my two because the person who adopted them, who I adopted from cannot bring them into her herd. So I figured that they  wouldn't suffer or hurt mine if they come to me. Also I am bringing a clean Billy here so I can breed . I want to be sure to help keep this disease at bay so my "kids" hopefully won't get it. I want to use the milk and meat as well as other products. They will all have current shot and health checks. Is it possible to eliminate this disease from my herd and how would I do that?,

HI Norma:

SoreMouth also known as Contagious Ecthyma, Orf, and "scabby mouth" and is highly contagious  similar to our human chicken pox .. once the virus has effected a goat  they are typically immune form another out break.. but can always be a carrier to others (including humans) so wear gloves any time you are in contact with goats with  orf blisters!
Typically the  blisters outbreaks lasts about  3-4 weeks. They can appear on any hairless or lightly haired parts of the goat's body (lips, vulva, teats, and scrotum), less frequently Soremouth can also occur on the face, ears, and coronary band above the hoof of the goat. With nursing kids it can become very serious as the lesions make it difficult for them to nurse..  and  orf can be passed from teat to kid and from kid to teat. This for the dam can lead to congested udder or mastitis, so be aware of it.. Goats exposed but do not contract the lesions  are  still carriers  and can pass to other goats.

Is this billy going to be a visitor or  a permanent  goat on the farm? If a visitor you have the Absolute! responsibility of letting his owners know there was an orf outbreak on your farm because if he does contract it, he can easily take it back to his own farm infecting the entire herd.
No it cannot be eliminated,  once there it will always be there.

As far as the vaccine goes: There  is controversy over it. The virus is a "live virus vaccine" -- as opposed to "killed" or "modified" - the vaccine intentionally introduces Soremouth/orf into the herd. goat owners who choose to use this vaccine, administer it before breeding while there are no kids or nursing dams in hopes that when kids are born and nursing, the dams will have already had the disease.
THAT being said, There is no evidence that a previously vaccinated doe will pass immunity to Soremouth onto her kids.   So bringing in a live  virus to your herd only introduces orf to an otherwise clean herd.

Typically  orf does not cause a lot of concern in most  herds.. it runs it's course with one or a few goats showing symptoms, and for many,  they rarely see another outbreak but it will always be  a possibility.

According to Onion Creek Ranch:
The preferred treatment is the application of Gentian Violet to the blisters and scabs. Soremouth is very contagious to both humans and goats, so use disposable gloves. Gentian Violet is an old-time inexpensive purple-colored liquid medication used in the past to treat fever blisters and impetigo. It is available without prescription from a pharmacy, but it may have to be ordered by the pharmacist and it probably will be behind the counter rather than on public-accessible shelves. Gentian Violet dries the blisters and hastens healing. Drying scabs sometimes contain staph bacteria or screwworm maggots. Gentian Violet kills bacteria that may cause a secondary infection. Systemic antibiotics are recommended if a secondary bacterial infection exists. The purple color of Gentian Violet gives the producer the added benefit of being able to see which goats have already been treated. Campho-Phenique is another good product to apply topically to blisters and scabs. Campho-Phenique Maximum Strength also has antibacterial properties.

So .. bottom line is ..  no  you cannot get rid of it.. yes it can be passed via  sale barns and breeding visitors.. (sadly many folks do not  tell the sales barns their  goat  was exposed to orf which is irresponsible  and allows this to enter otherwise clean farms - not to mention other animals   in the sale barn around the stalls the infected goats  are held) and honestly I see no reason to use the vaccine.

Personally I have had a few cases..  about 15 years ago..  of over 1200 goats only a handful ever showed symptoms.. I have not seen  another goat on my place  in all the time since then -

IN addition! I do not sell/outsource/show  my goats..  I have closed herd.. and allow no visitors  (not because I do not want  the visitors getting something,  but  quite the opposite; I do not want visitors to be bringing anything  on their feet to my herd.. ) As with ANY contagious disease.. I would have the  Responsibility to inform any potential buyer that the goats had been exposed to orf to allow them to decide whether or not to take this to their own farms..

Hope this helps.  


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Specializing in New Goat Owner understanding of goat physiology, goat anatomy, goat care and herd management. *I am not a veterinarian, any advice and information should be verified by your veterinarian before administering to your goats. (! During times of severe weather in the Midwest, I may experience a delay in internet service due to the interference of the satellite reception - but will answer your questions as soon as service is restored. !) Note: Keep in mind, the goat expert is volunteering her time to help other goat owners, she also runs her farm with her own herd of 100 goats and may not be at her computer at all hours. Questions are answered as soon as she can possibly read and answer them, usually within 24 hours.


23 years experience of raising goats and herd management. Active hands on experience with goat herd and research with various Caprine University Research and Extension Centers nationwide. 15 years dedicated to helping other goat breeders/owners with goat anatomy, goat disease and goat health care issues via phone, published goat care articles and internet interaction. The information I have to offer is not only from personal experience and years of research updated often as new information is made available to me, but supported by many Veterinary Research colleges and all medications and information I have to offer on how the medications work and what dosages "I" use, is information I have acquired by discussing directly with the company's veterinarians and staff research experts.

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