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Thiamine and Overeaters info

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Posted by Katy on February 26, 2002 at 08:06:00:

This was posted on another list and I found it to be great info so I wanted to share it with you all. Sorry it is long.
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(My letter:)

Dear Dr. _________,
I have 2 separate incidents that myself and several others are seeking advice on.
Please advise if you can help answer our questions....

#1. There are 3 instances among people who show pygmies of the goats going off feed the
day after returning from a show. They continue to go downhill, develop gastric symptoms
and bloat only slightly after about 12-24 hours right before the onset of death.
ONE of these cases was diagnosed by necropsy as severe thiamin deficiency brought on by
stress, presumably from travel and showing. The other 2 were not, but symptomatically
displayed the same pattern and died also.
QUESTION: When I, personally, used to rodeo, I would give my horses B-1 crumbles to
combat stress on the road.
Could this be given to goats and in your opinion.......would adding this to their
feedstuff before leaving home maybe help keep this "thiamin" crash from occurring from
the stress of travel and showing?

#2 I also know of several cases, one of my own about 4 years ago, where a goat begins to
stiffen their back, go to staggering, drooling and salivating, eventually painful crying,
lying down and unable to stand, and finally seizures and death. No fever, no bloat.
Necropsies and blood work return - No definitive cause.
Have you seen this or can you speculate?
All cases were from herds current on C/D/T vaccines.
Time span 12-20 hours from onset to death.

We are all fanatic about our herds and they are also our beloved pets.
Looking for help, and our vets are at a loss. Thank you! Your advice would be most

Sandy (Daigle) Guidry
Cajun Funny Farm Pygmy Goats
Home of: "The Pygmy Goat Pet Owners' Manual"
Breaux Bridge, LA

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(Message from Dr. Katherine Bretzlaff, DVM, Sm. Ruminant Specialist, Texas A&M) :

Sandra - if in the first case we are talking about polioencephalomalacia, which is due to
a thiamin deficiency, I would suggest making every effort to be sure goats are fed exactly
the same way on the road as they are at home. Feeding thiamine wouldn't bother me a bit.
I would also have injectable thiamine on hand and give about 10 mg/kg when they first show
signs (intravenous is fastest but if you don't have experience with that have your
veterinarian do it or give it in the muscle).

In the second case, even though the herds are current on CD/T vaccinations, it sounds
suspiciously like overeating (enterotoxemia). When you say current on CD/T vaccinations
are you talking about annual vaccinations? Immunity actually doesn't last that long. I
would consider boosting CD/T at least every 6 months and before any known stressors if it
has been more than 3 months since the last booster. Stressors would be showing, selling
to a new home, etc.

Dr. Bretzlaff

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(Message from Dr. Bruce Olcott, DVM, LSU Baton Rouge, La.) :

Dear Sandra

#1. When you are traveling to shows. Make sure that you minimize changes in diet. This
means keep them on exactly the same hay, the same grain, the same mineral and the same
Even changes in water can change the microflora in their rumen and cause digestive
Keep a rigid schedule of feeding and make feedings frequently and in small quantities.
sure all goats are immunized for Overeating disease. This will require 2 shots initially
weeks apart and then at least an annual booster. For animals on high levels of grain
vaccination should be with 3 shots and a 6 month booster given.

You can feed B1 to them and it will help with B1 deficiency. B1 is also available as an
injection which I would give if you saw clinical signs of polioencephalomalacia.

#2. With a history of acute death, the most common cause is overeating disease. Prevent
above. Treat with antitoxin which you can buy. I find that most goat owners don't
follow the sequence of injections necessary to immunize against this disease. The disease
should be visible on a necropsy. Other then that the other causes would include a toxin
any type (lead, pesticides, cyanide, nitrates, urea). As you know goats are capable of
getting into things they shouldn't.

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(Following message from Dr. Maurice White, Cornell College of VM)

I can't personally help you, but have copied information below from our
I hope this is of use.
You can also try

Maurice E. White DVM

This site is offered free of charge in hopes of reaching the broadest
audience. However, maintenance of the site is expensive and gifts are most
welcome. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of CONSULTANT
send a check made payable to Cornell University to:
Office of Public Affairs
Box 39
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
Ithaca NY 14853-6401
Please mark on the check your support is to be used for CONSULTANT. Thank you.

Dr. Maurice E. White
A Diagnostic Support System
for Veterinary Medicine
Cause Page


Common; affects cerebral and cerebellar cortices. Most
polioencephalomalacia is believed to be due to thiamine depletion. A form of
this disease due to sulphate toxicity has also been
described and diets based on molasses and urea are a cause. A diet of BRASSICA
OLERACEA, which has a high sulphur content, was
associated with an outbreak of polioencephalomalacia in New Zealand. Signs
occasionally asymmetrical. Red blood cell transketolase
levels may be low, and blood thiamine levels below 50 nmol/l are considered
significant. Both young and adults affected. Treatment
with thiamine is a diagnostic test. Onset may be acute or gradual over one week
or so. Afebrile unless convulsing.

Bovine, Caprine, Ovine

Abnormal proprioceptive positioning, Agalactia, Anorexia,
Ataxia, Blindness, Bradycardia, Circling, Coma, Dehydration, Diarrhea,
Disoriented, Dullness, Dysmetria, Dysphagia, Excessive
salivation, Excitement, Fever, Generalized lameness or stiffness, Generalized
weakness, Grinding teeth, Head pressing, Head tilt,
Inability to stand, Miosis, Nystagmus, Opisthotonus, Papilledema, Propulsion,
Reluctant to move, Seizures or syncope, Strabismus,
Sudden death, Tetany, Tongue protrusion, Trembling, Tremor

[Web Reference] PubMed

[Web Reference] Klee W

Emergy K, Oetzel G. Case report- polioencephalomalacia in
dairy calves. Bov Practit 2001;35:61-65

GOULD DH. update on sulfur-related polioencephalomalacia.
vet clin n a: food anim pract 2000;16;481-496

NILES GA ET AL. sulfur-induced polioencephalomalacia in
stocker calves. vet human toxicol 2000;42:290-291

MITCHELL G. differential diagnosis of diarrhoea/illthrift
in goats at grass. in practice 1999;21:139-143

Dr. Maurice E. White
A Diagnostic Support System
for Veterinary Medicine
Sign Page

Ataxia, incoordination, staggering, falling
Seizures or syncope, convulsions, fits, collapse

73 Possible Diagnoses in goats. Each can be looked up at

o 4-aminopyridine toxicity
o Acute anthrax, bacillus anthracis
o Albizia versicolor and a.
tanganyicensis poisoning in ruminants- exotic
o Anaphylaxis or acute drug reaction
o Anticoagulant, rodenticide, toxicity
o Arsenic toxicity in large animals
o Babesiosis, babesia, in food
animals- exotic
o Bee or wasp sting
o Bermuda grass poisoning, tremors,
in cattle, goats, and horses
o Box, buxus, poisoning in ruminants
and horses
o Cerebellar or pericerebellar abscess
o Cerebral or pericerebral brain abscess
o Cerebral or pericerebral
neoplasia, cyst
o Cerebral trauma or ischemia
o Cerebrospinal nematodiasis,
parasitic encephalomyelitis
o Coenuriasis, coenurosis, taenia in
ruminants, dogs, and cats
o Cyanogenic plant poisoning,
cyanide, in large animals
o Enterotoxemia, clostridium
perfringens type d in sheep and goats
o Fenvalerate toxicity in goats
o Focal symmetrical encephalomalacia
in sheep and goats
o Heartwater, cowdria ruminantium,
cowdriosis, in ruminants- exotic
o Heat stress, heatstroke in large
o Hydrocephalus, hydranencephaly
o Hydrogen sulfide gas toxicity in
large animals
o Hypomagnesemia in ruminants, grass
tetany, whole milk tetany
o Iron toxicity in cattle and goats
o Lead toxicity in ruminants and pigs
o Levamisole toxicity in goats and sheep
o Liver, hepatic disease,
photosensitization, due to poisoning
o Locoweed, astragalus, oxytropis
poisoning in ruminants and horses
o Louping ill - exotic
o Melioidosis, burkholderia
pseudomallei- exotic
o Meningoencephalitis, meningitis,
o Metaldehyde toxicity in ruminants
o Milkweed, asclepias, poisoning in
ruminants and horses
o Myotonia congenita
o Nierembergia poisoning in cattle,
sheep, goats, and horses- exotic
o Nitrate, nitrite, poisoning in
o Nose, nasal, bots in sheep and
goats, oestrus ovis
o Oleander poisoning in ruminants
and horses
o Oral propylene glycol toxicity in
ruminants and horses
o Organochlorine, chlorinated
hydrocarbon toxicity
o Organophosphate or carbamate toxicity
o Oxalate poisoning or ethylene
glycol toxicity in ruminants
o Penicillin reaction in ruminants
and horses
o Petroleum hydrocarbon toxicity in
o Polioencephalomalacia,
cerebrocortical necrosis in ruminants
o Ponto-medullary, brain stem,
pituitary, neoplasia, cyst
o Pregnancy toxemia, preparturient
ketosis in ewes and does
o Prenatal or perinatal asphyxia
o Pseudorabies, aujeszky's disease
o Pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning
in ruminants and horses
o Rabies
o Rhododendron poisoning,
grayanotoxin, in ruminants
o Sarcocystosis in ruminants
o Sawfly larval toxicity in
ruminants - exotic
o Sida carpinifolia poisoning,
lysosomal storage disease, in goats- exotic
o Snake bites, snakebites
o Sneezeweed, helenium, poisoning in
o Solanum poisoning causing
cerebellar degeneration in cattle and goats
o Strychnine toxicity
o Tetanus in large animals
o Tobacco, nicotinia poisoning,
nicotine toxicity in ruminants and pigs
o Turkish sheep encephalomyelitis,
encephalitis- exotic
o Urea, non-protein nitrogen
toxicity in ruminants
o Veratrum poisoning in ruminants
o Vitamin a deficiency in ruminants
and horses
o Water deprivation, salt toxicity
in cattle, sheep and goats
o Water dropwort, oenanthe crocata,
poisoning- exotic
o Water hemlock, cicuta poisoning in
large animals
o Water intoxication, toxicity, of
o White liver disease of sheep and
goats - exotic
o Yew (taxus) poisoning in ruminants
and horses

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