Johne’s disease in goats

A new test which could substantially reduce the cost of diagnosing Johne’s disease in goat herds has been developed at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), Camden.

Currently the cost of testing goats for Johne’s disease on a herd basis is expensive because only individual animal tests are validated.

In sheep, groups of 50 sheep can be pooled into one sample for testing using pooled faecal culture (PFC), at an approximate cost per animal of $2.30 for the lab test plus veterinary costs.

Dr Graeme Eamens from EMAI’s Microbiology and Immunology Laboratory has now validated the PFC test for Caprine Johne’s disease, in a project sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia.

The project found that a pooling ratio of 1:25 would be possible for use of the PFC as a diagnostic tool for Caprine Johne’s. National approval of the test is now being sought.

Johne’s is a wasting disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium paratuberculosis and goats can be infected by either the cattle or sheep strain.

In March 2005, 25 infected goat herds were known to be present in Australia; 11 in NSW, 9 in Victoria, 3 in Tasmania, one in South Australia and one in Queensland (Animal Health Australia 2005).

Goat producers are seeking more cost-effective herd based tests for Johne's disease to improve certification and control measures.

Further information

Contact: Graeme Eamens, Camden on 61 2 4640 6358 or graeme.eamens@dpi.nsw.gov.au.