Saturday, November 6, 2010

Goat Disease that Harms Humans

Keeping goats, drinking goat milk, and making a number of products from goat milk is tremendously appealing, and I'm all for it.  However, you do need to be aware that there are some diseases that can harm humans, and while a goat may be infected, the signs and symptoms are so slightly, you may never know that the goat is sick.

Unless you routinely have your goats tested by your vet, and can guarantee that your goats are healthy, you'll want to pasteurize your milk if you plan on making soft cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.  This means heating milk to 185F, or heated for 40 seconds between the temperatures of 160 to 165F.

The long ripening time required by hard cheese kills the bacterial agents, so they can absolutely be made with raw milk.

Here is a short list of the most common infections your goats can contract:
  • Rabies - Yes, your sweet goats can be bitten by a rabid animal and contract rabies. Because this is so dangerous to humans, if you suspect your animal is infected, contact your vet immediately.
  • Toxoplasmosis - While this is typically considered to be a disease carried by cats, goats can also carry it. Adults are impervious to any problems unless one is a pregnant woman.  Babies and young children are also susceptible, and should probably not drink raw milk from an untested animal.
  • Brucellosis - This disease is most commonly found in underdeveloped countries, especially in the tropics and subtropics.  It is not as likely to be found in developed countries like the U.S., but it is still a concern.  The goat may not ever show signs of illness, but it can be  contained in the milk.
  • Tuberculosis - Fortunately, this has been all but eradicated in most countries, but it is transmitted through the milk.
This information is provided exclusively for your information.  In my research about the "raw milk" issue, transmission of disease is the most common concern.  You can manage these with information and a sensible approach to how you use the milk from your own goats.

Information is empowering, not frightening.

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