Goat Polio

Goat Polio, Polioencephalomalacia, Cerebrocortical Necrosis

First let me say, Goat Polio and Listeriosis are two of the most often confused diseases in goats.  Their causes are different; their treatments are different; but symptoms are similar with improper feeding being a major contributing factor of both diseases.  Goat Polio occurs most often in kids being weaned and very young goats under six months of age.  In winter, higher numbers of Goat Polio are seen due to the low availability of natural browse and quality of hay available.

Goat Polio is caused by a thiamine B1 deficiency.  Changes in the rumen suppress the normal flow of bacteria and interfere with thiamine absorption. Once thiamine is depleted or altered, brain cells begin to die and neurological symptoms appear.   Sudden changes in feed, feeding too much grain and not enough hay or browse, moldy hay or feed, use of Corid in treatment of Coccidia, and the usage of antibiotics are all causes that may create a thiamine deficiency in a goat.

(Highlighted symptoms are those that differ from Listeriosis) but if in doubt treat for both illnesses.  See B1/B12 article.

-      appear dull and depressed

-      may lie down more often

-      may stop eating or drinking

-     Stargazing – may throw their head backwards and up

-      have convulsions occurring 2-5 mins apart

-      unable to coordinate muscular movement or muscular contractions

-      may show increased aggression or excitability

-      have muscle tremors

-      may have high fever at end stage

-      increased respiratory and pulse rates

-      have temporary blindness

-      have severe arching of back

-      grind their teeth

-      have severe rigidity

-      have rapid movement of eyes

-      may stagger or weave

-      have diarrhea



B1 – Thiamine – is the only effective treatment.  Most goat B1 meds are at a rate of 100mg per ml/cc.  For young goats dosage would be 1/2cc or 50mg per 10# animal every six hours.  Adult dosage rates 5cc per 100# which is 500mg per 100# animal.  Continue treating until symptoms improve.   You can substitute over-the-counter B1 tablets; adjust dosage rates according to mg of B1.  It’s alot cheaper and easier to get OTC., and treatment can result in improvement within a few hours if the disease is caught early enough.   Overdose with B1 rarely occurs because it is excreted through the body very quickly.  If symptoms show no improvement after two treatments, increase dosage to every 4 hours.

Also treat with Probiotic Power at 3-5 TBS as a top feed to encourage normal rumen development.  In severe cases, very weak goats or goats not eating, use a Magic drench with above treatment.  Dosing with Dexamethasone 0.5 to 1/0mg/lb IM or SC, may help.


Monitor feed ration and encourage feeding of more browse and hay.  Check incoming hay for mold on a weekly basis.  Watch goats for 24hours following use of Corid, dewormers and antibiotics.