Control of Johne’s Disease

04 January 2016

Johne’s disease (JD) is a serious wasting disease that affects a wide range of animals. JD has been found in cattle, sheep, goats, deer and camelids, including alpaca and llama, in Australia and is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) that live mainly in animal intestines but can also survive in the outside environment for several months.

While cross-infection between species can occur, different strains of the bacteria cause infection in different animals. The strain of bacteria mainly affecting cattle, goats, camelids and deer in Australia is known as bovine Johne’s disease (BJD). The sheep strain of the bacteria is called ovine Johne’s disease (OJD). OJD has also infected goats in Australia.

The disease is seen more often in dairy goats than meat or fibre goats, but all breeds may be infected if they come into contact with the bacterium. Dairy goats tend to be more commonly exposed to BJD and fibre and meat goats, OJD.

Goats acquire infection at an early age through eating contaminated pasture, or drinking contaminated milk or water. The signs of disease develop slowly and the disease is rarely seen in young animals.

The disease occurs more frequently in the southern states in Australia. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have no known infected goat herds.

A working group convened by Animal Health Australia (AHA) and the Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA) has produced materials to assist goat producers control JD and support the uptake of the National Kid Rearing Plan.

These materials include:

Further information


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