Molly the Goat & CL

6 May 2019 Sarah Rodrigues

Caseous Lymphadenitis, abbreviated CL, is a contagious disease that affects goats and sheep, and can even spread to humans (though this is exceptionally rare). It is an infection of the lymph nodes that causes external or internal abscesses which, when they burst, can spread the disease through cuts or bodily fluids.

While preparing for the new buck and giving our goats their daily cuddles, I found an unruptured abscess on Molly’s throat. It was in an area prone to CL abscesses, shown in this chart.

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We isolated Molly immediately in the new buck pen (the buck was arriving the next day) and had the vet come the following morning. She punctured the abscess and took a sample of the fluid inside. CL usually manifests as a thick pus in the abscess, that ranges from white to yellow to slightly green. Unfortunately it tested positive for CL.

Fearing the worst, we had the vet draw blood from all our other goats (including the new buck). Over two weeks later, we fortunately learned that all the other goats had tested negative. We will test again in a few months to make sure, and then vaccinate the herd against CL.

Since our goats are for breeding and milking, we cannot keep a goat with CL on the premises. Baby goats are susceptible to the disease and should not nurse from a CL-positive dam, and any milk from a CL doe must be pasteurized to kill the pathogens. Molly is being re-homed and will no longer be bred or milked.

This was an incredibly hard decision because we absolutely wanted to keep Molly. She is a lovely goat, very friendly and great at keeping the other goats in line. If all our goats had tested positive, we’d likely keep them all as pets and abandon our plans to breed. Since that was not the case, the best thing to do for the health of the rest of the animals is to re-home her.

For more information about CL, please visit

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