Friday, September 21, 2012

Maureen Herrera on Curing Listeriosis

Update on Maureen's daughter, Mia

Mia Herrera of LaBelle, Florida is now 13, but she was only 11 when we first interviewed her -  New Cheese Maker #9 - Mia Herrera.  We have followed her progress in the American Dairy Goat Association and this past July, she entered the ADGA National Goat Show in Loveland, Colorado and won third place showmanship in the intermediate division.

We're very proud of her, of course.  Maureen told us:

Mia is homeschooled so she isn't in a particular grade - she takes some classes online that are 8th grade and I have put together some that are college and others that are high school level.   She is 13 now.  In 2 weeks she will be giving a seminar on Showmanship at the State Fair Educational Seminar (an audience of approx 100+).

She is always involved in teaching or sharing her skills/knowledge in the goat industry.  She is gaining a lot of confidence doing these presentations. It's good for her.  She says that she is working towards the goal of attending University of Florida in Gainesville where they have an excellent veterinary program.  She wants to be a large animal vet specializing in goats.

Mia with Lala/Innuendoe before she became ill.

Tragedy strikes

Mia went to the nationals in Colorado with a breeder, so she decided to leave her own goats at home and to learn as much as she could for the next year.  Unfortunately, while she was gone, her best doe, Lala/Innuendoe became ill and almost died from listeriosis.

Maureen kept Lala alive and Mia took over her care when she returned from the show.  The goat was inside the house for a month and a half!  Maureeen said "it was like taking care of a bed-ridden relative.  Mia had to tube-feed her and massage her and turn her over every two hours.  (She got really handy with the dustpan for a pee-catcher/bedpan.)"

Mia in the foyer with her sick goat

Maureen researches the disease

Maureen is one of the Directors of the Florida Dairy Goat Association.  As such, she supports the members in owning goats, making dairy food products and selling them to the public at Farmer's Markets:   She explained her job to us:  "I promote the care and responsibilities of owning goats to youth members and future members; encourage new owners to attend the many seminars and shows put on by the FDGA; and  act as liaison to the officers on the Board from the general public."

As a result of the research she did to help Mia's goat, Maureen learned a great deal about listeriosis.  She wrote the comprehensive article below to help other goat owners.  If you're one, we hope you never need it!


By Maureen H. Herrera

If you never have a goat come down with this horrible disease that would be a blessing. However, if you do, hopefully this information will help you not only recognize the symptoms but also help empower you to start the correct treatment in time, administer effective meds and therapy, and save your goat. Sometimes we can't get to the vet's office or it is a weekend and they are closed…

All-that-Jazz is their sweetest girl and dressed up for the occasion to look her best


The first most important point is to recognize the symptoms so you can get on it quickly. There is no time to lose.  Be very aware of your goat's eyelid/gum color and pregnancy status.  Listeriosis tends to affect goats that are anemic, or very pregnant or have a compromised immune system for example, from parasites.  Unfortunately it is a very insidious disease that sometimes does not present obvious symptoms right away. At the first sign that your goat is off feed or off by itself and shows any of the following signs it could be Listeriosis:  strange gait/stumbling, "star-gazing", blindness, trouble swallowing or chewing, one side of their body looking like it had a stroke, circling, drooling, lower lip hanging, high fevers, uncoordinated motor functions (like walking into something as if they didn't see it or constant falling or stumbling), head contracted back and stiff legs held straight out while laying on their side (almost looking like symptoms of tetanus), laying down and propping their head up on something because they can't hold it up, leaning on things to hold themselves up. Most of the time diarrhea is not present.  A big percent of these symptoms also are symptoms of Goat Polio so you should consult a veterinarian if you aren't sure. (a)

What exactly is Listeriosis and where does it come from?

It is an infection caused by the Listeria bacteria "monocytogens" that attacks the brain stem of the affected animal. It is a cold-preferring organism but is found everywhere and all around us in the soil, plant debris, in silage, water, feed, hay and also can be in the gut of a goat.  There are 2 forms of Listeriosis, one that causes spontaneous abortions and the other that causes encephalitis (swelling) of the brain stem. The bacteria actually cause lesions and then scarring of the brain tissue. Listeriosis tends to affect older animals more than it does younger ones. Sometimes animals can be carriers of this disease, show no clinical signs ever, and shed the bacteria infecting other animals.  This disease appears to occur during the wet winter months and early spring, infecting ruminants, horses, dogs and humans.  It can be spread by contact with infected feces, urine, milk, vaginal discharge or an aborted fetus. The Listeria bacteria usually enter the body of the goat through its mouth then travels through the system where it attacks the brain. Please note that it is zoonotic (able to be transmitted to humans). So, be very careful when handling the goat and its urine/feces and other bodily fluids. This bacteria is highly resistant to antibiotics.

This shows the brain stem and where a goat was attacked by Listeria bacteria. You can see the lesions caused by it.

What can you do to help your animal once they have contracted it?

The second most important issue is treatment of not only the symptoms but the illness itself. You need to make sure that you kill the Listeria bacteria right away. Once you know that it is Listeria bacteria, a regimen of antibiotics (herbal and/or chemical) is critical.  It is recommended that your goat receive either Banamine for reducing any fever/relieving pain OR Dexamethazone to reduce the swelling that comes with the infection on the brain - either also help to calm your goat. You should not use Dexamethazone with Banamine, as it could cause fatal hemorraging.  It is also very important to have the goat on the correct dosage of antibiotics, for the correct amount of time, and give supportive therapy. This should include Sub Q (sub-cutaneous) injections of Vitamin B Complex and making sure your animal stays hydrated (a full-grown goat will consume 1 gallon of water each day).  (b)

Mia with Lala/Innuendoe whose milk has lots of butterfat
Will your goat get better, and how long does it take?

Our doe contracted the encephalitis strain.  It has been 2 months now and we are still treating her at this time. Once we realized what was going on, since at first she didn't show any particular sign/symptom for any particular disease (she stumbled a little with her rear leg and we thought she had just injured it), we began antibiotic treatment with Procaine Penicillin when her fevers started. She had gone off hay but not grain at first.  We began giving her Vitamin B Complex, Sub-Q.  Once the fevers started she didn't eat at all. The fevers were so high (they ranged from 104-106.9) we also administered Banamine (injectible). As soon as the Banamine wore off her fevers would go right back up again. We knew we were fighting some kind of dangerous infection.  The intensity of her fevers brought on seizures and intense unfocused eye twitching.  We gave her the Banamine IM (intra-muscular) every 12 hrs for 3 days to help as an analgesic (anti-fever agent) and anti-inflammatory, but there was no improvement. We were told that we should take her up to the University of Florida (Gainsville) for screening and treatment but did not think that she would make the 5-6 hour ride.  We were also told that she probably needed a blood transfusion. I have not learned that (yet!) and didn't have any lactated ringers. We gave her coconut water orally by drenching her (by syringe) with it 3 times a day. ( c )

We started her on herbals and switched from Penicillin to Bio-Mycin 200 (Oxytetracycline HCl - a no-sting version of LA-200 ) and gave it to her SQ (sub-cutaneously) at the rate of 4.5 cc every 12 hrs. (she weighed 120 lbs at the time from having no appetite).  Three days after starting this antibiotic and herbal treatment and she became stable but wasn't getting better.

She was still on her side, head flat sideways.  Being afraid that she would not make the long trip to the vet's office at first, we waited until we got her "stable enough" for the ride - with no seizures or high fevers. This was accomplished by moving her into our house into the a/c  and syringing her every 2 hrs with Boost (because she wasn't eating, 5 bottles a day), Liver and Gall Bladder formula extract, Kidney formula extract, Ear & Nerve tincture, Bidens liquid formula (an herbal antibiotic), Omega 3 Plus High Calorie Liquid diet & Supplement (Advantech Ltd.), Ginger/Rosemary Leaf Tea, Iron Herbal formula, Garlic Immune system formula, Probios, Herbal Tummy Tamer, and applying Rosemary Essential Oil (w/olive oil) to the skin on the back of her neck where her brain stem is.  We gently flipped her over onto each opposite side and massaged her every 2 hrs. as well.  She was offered oak leaves and peppertree leaves and cabbage palm fronds in small pieces which she began to nibble once her fevers were down.

Close-up of Lala/Innuendoe
We took her to Dr. Ricci's Office in Tampa and saw Dr. Kahen. He was very kind, helpful and supportive.  He ran some preliminary blood tests then gave us the diagnosis of Listeriosis due to her high fevers, being recumbent (staying in a flat-on-one-side position), having both "staring" fixed eyes or terribly twitching eyes and being off food.  He adjusted the dose of Biomycin to 6.0cc every 12 hrs (she actually weighed 130 lbs) and congratulated us for our supportive therapy, telling us to keep it up, especially the Vit B Complex.  However, her prognosis was not good, in fact, he didn't give her much time. He was surprised that she had lasted as long as she had. We took her home and continued her treatments 24/7.  Once her fevers had stopped after another 7 days, we took her off Banamine and continued with the antibiotics and syringing her with liquids/herbals and offering browse items.

She was still flat on her side.  Then our friend/Master Herbalist, Christine Abbey suggested that we use Usnea Extract. It is a Lichen that specifically targets Listeria bacteria. She told us to give the extract orally and also put the herbal drops along her brain stem.  I don't think it is any coincidence that when we came down to check our doe the next morning she was sitting up in a normal laying position! It was 2 weeks to the day that she had first started showing signs of this illness. 2 months to the day that she first came down with this disease, we finally took her outside to the barn, however, she is still receiving physical therapy and herbal therapy until all the symptoms disappear. One thing to note is that when we temporarily ran out of the Usnea and Brain & Nerve formulas, our doe regressed to a former state of recumbency and lost her appetite. As soon as we resumed the treatments she immediately - within an hour - perked up again and began eating.  Most information that you will find about Listeriosis is that you must continue the treatment(s) until all symptoms disappear (and add an extra day or two) to be on the safe side.

Note: This article is our personal story on what we used to help our doe. Like any medicine or therapy, the person/goat etc. must be willing to try and get better and must believe in what they are doing/giving to their animal. I personally believe in herbals, and their success has been proven with our doe more than once during this illness. The herbals that we are using truly are making a difference with our doe.  The following are our "recipes" along with Christine Abbey's formulas/recipes. I hope this information is helpful to you, too.

The creamy, frothy milk they get from All-that-Jazz smells and tastes like melted vanilla ice-cream!
Herbal therapy:

I am going to give you a list of which herbals we used and their specific use for treatment. Liver and Gall Bladder Extract contains: Barberry or Oregon Grape Root, Wild Yam, Cramp Bark, Fennel Seed, Ginger, Catnip and Peppermint used to "unblock" these organs for better function and speed up the blood purifying process. Kidney Extract contains Juniper berries, Parsley, Uva Ursi, Marshmallow root, Lobelia, Ginger and Golden Seal root. Trtmt for:  Bladder Ailments, Bloating (Water Retention), Bruises, Cystitis, Enuresis (incontinence), Fragile Capillaries, Kidneys, Nephrolithiasis (kidney stones),  Osteomalacia (like Ricketts), Urinary Calculi, Urinary Tract Infection, Water Retention.  Ear & Nerve tincture contains: Blue Cohosh, Black Cohosh, Blue Vervain, Skullcap and Valerian. A formula specific to the motor nerves, greatly beneficial to the whole nervous system, helping to rebuild the nerves and nervous system, has also been used historically for the health and vitality of the spinal cord and other nerves. Bidens liquid (an herbal antibiotic), this is Christine's recipe made from a local herb, Bidens pilosa or Bidens alba, that targets any infection in the whole body.  Rosemary Essential Oil (w/olive oil), is used as an Analgesic, antiarthritic, antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative (promote healthy action of the stomach wall & intestines and expel gas), cholagogue (acts on the liver & increase secretion of bile), decongestant, diaphoretic (promotes perspiration), digestive, diuretic (produce a copious excretion of urine), expectorant, fungicidal, hepatic (helps with liver function), hypertensive, nervine, restorative, rubefacient (causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation), stimulant, stomachic, sudorific (makes you sweat), tonic, vermifuge (antiparasitic), vulnerary (useful in healing wounds), specifically in this case for:  fainting, headache, hysteria, jaundice, memory loss, mental fatigue, migraine, muscle aches and pains, nervous disorders, neuralgia (pain in one or more nerves caused by a change in neurological structure or function), rheumatism, slow circulation, sore muscles.  Ginger/Rosemary Leaf Tea, aids in the improvement of nerve function as explained previously with rosemary essential oil (this oil should NEVER be taken internally), with the ginger helping absorption by the brain of the rosemary leaf tea.  Iron herbal formula, this is Christine's formula, contains Yellow Dock Root, Dandelion leaf and root, Superfood mix, Beet Root, and Burdock Root all used to help support liver function and rebuild iron in the blood.  Garlic Immune System formula, also Christine's formula, provides an "all-over" immune system boost to fight all infection. Probios in the form of water kefir and goat probios powder. Herbal Tummy Tamer, another formula from Christine, for use after you worm your goat to sooth the lesions and damage done by the worms. It contains: Ginger, Clove, Marshmallow Root, Slippery Elm, Cinnamon, Cayenne pepper, Raspberry Leaf

Physical therapy:

Our doe didn't start out needing physical therapy. Because she became recumbent, then needed to use one of her front legs as a "kickstand" while lying down, we think that she cut off or slowed the circulation in it so much during the night that it began to atrophy and become very stiff. We began articulating it, trying to bring it to full ROM (range of motion). We put peppermint essential oil and rosemary essential oil (w/ olive oil) on her knee and pastern joints before starting the therapy and also put a drop of lavender oil on her nose to calm her. We did this therapy 5x a day (each time we gave her meds/herbals) at first. Now we do it 3x a day. She has had some improvement with moving it but she will still not put any weight on it and moves around on 3 legs. We are hoping that she will begin to use it soon.


It is important to be sure that it is Listeriosis and then a regimen of Biomycin-200 or LA-200 is recommended to completely kill off the bacteria.  We used the formula of 1cc/per every 22 lbs of goat weight, Sub-Q, every 12 hrs for the first week then every 24 hrs for the second week, making sure that she received probios every day and that we alternated injection sites.  We also used the Usnea Lichen Extract (herbal antibiotic) and saw immediate results. We used ½ tsp (or 5 cc) given orally  AND 5 drops of this put directly on the area of the brain stem, 5x a day for 1.5 months.

Mia with frothy milk from All-that-Jazz
Prevention? Is there a prevention?

You can take preventative action, but it is impossible to fully prevent it.  It is like Russian Roulette.  It is all around us everywhere, waiting for the right time and the right animal. No matter how much you try to keep your animals' feed, grain, and hay dry and insect/mold-free it can still happen. And it usually only happens to one of the animals in your herd. We have tried to isolate where it could have come from by process of elimination but it is nearly impossible to know. Too many farms in our area have been touched by this disease for it not to be linked by some kind of feed or hay that we are all using, however, we get our hay/feed from different feed stores and different producers/providers. It seems to be concluded that this may be coming to our area from a source up north since it is a cold-loving type of bacteria. There is no way to truly know, unfortunately.

*Special thanks to Christine Abbey for being so unselfish in sharing her Herbal Recipes with us and being so supportive and helpful during our goat's illness. She is so knowledgeable in the herbal field (literally), I highly recommend that you contact her with any herbal questions. She can be reached at:

Christine Abbey, Master Herbalist

Farm:; Facebook:;


(a)    There are two websites that are useful as well that have a lot to say about Listeriosis vs. Goat Polio: and

(b)    The meds/herbals and dosages we used are included below. This is what worked for us.

(c)    Fresh coconut water has the same properties as our blood, so it is used world-wide as a transfusion. See more info on Coconuts below..

( b ) HERBAL DOSAGES - These are the dosages we used. Our doe is very large.  Every goat will be different. In Christine's Book, Herbal Remedies for Goats, she explains that "there are no clinical dosages, but these were based on an average full-sized goat".  A smaller goat would use less, like ½, with kids using approx a ¼ . Adapt the dosage to your animal.  Make notes of what you used, how much and when. It is very easy to lose track of this when you are giving so many meds/herbals. Be sure to keep good records for future use of what seemed to work best for your goat, just in case.

Bidens pilosa or Bidens alba a.k.a "Spanish Needle" (Christine Abbey's Biden formula)  6cc,    3 - 5  x  each day up to 28 days

GARLIC IM (Christine Abbey's Immune System Formula)    13 cc,   5 x  each day

ROSEMARY/GINGER TEA  (make the tea from fresh rosemary leaves or the dried herb. 1 Tbsp per 1 cup of water plus about ½" of ginger root, steeped for 10 minutes) = approx. 60cc  of tea, 3  x  each day

LIVER & GALLBLADDER (Dr. Christopher's Liver & Gallbladder Extract) 1 full dropper 5 x each day (a full dropper = 1.5 cc)

KIDNEY (Dr. Christopher's Kidney Extract) 1 full dropper 5 x each day (a full dropper = 1.5 cc)

EAR & NERVE (Dr. Christopher's Ear & Nerve Tincture) 1 full dropper 3 x each day (a full dropper = 1.5 cc) AND 1 full dropper 3 x each day (a full dropper = 1.5 cc) given in drops on the spine

IRON FORMULA (Christine Abbey's Iron Formula) ½ Tbsp (15cc) of the dried herbs 1 - 3 x each day (our doe wouldn't just eat it so we mixed it into the tea and orally drenched her with it)

TUMMY TAMER (Christine Abbey's TummyTamer Formula) ½ Tbsp (15cc) of the dried herbs 1 - 3  x each day (our doe wouldn't just eat it so we mixed it into the tea and orally drenched her with it)

USNEA Extract     1 tsp, 3-6 times per day orally. AND 1 tsp, 3-6 times per day in drops on brain stem

ROSEMARY Essential Oil (w/olive oil added as carrier oil)  5 - 6 drops, 5 x each day along the spine or on the brain stem

LAVENDER Essential Oil,   a few drops rubbed onto the goat's nose to help calm her

PEPPERMINT Essential Oil,    a few drops put into the palm of your hand mixed with the rosemary/olive oil gently rubbed on the joints to stimulate blood flow to the area while doing PT

Comfrey Leaves or Dr. Christopher's Complete Tissue & Bone Ointment  rub the ointment (or the leaves in a paste) onto the joints (or wherever else needed) 2 - 3 times a day

Raw Young Coconut Water and/or "meat", water given orally, or SQ, to rehydrate as electrolytes; meat as a supplement to the goat's diet for its antibacterial/ antimicrobial properties


"The coconut is a natural water filter that takes almost 9 months to filter each liter (qt) of water in the shell…the water rises upward through innumerable fibers, which purify the water before it ends up in the sterile nut…it is one of the most highest sources of electrolytes found in nature...young coconut water is nearly identical to human blood plasma, making it a universal donor..plasma makes up 55% of human blood, the remaining 45% of our blood consists of hemoglobin - which is essentially transformed plant blood(chlorophyll)…" from David Wolfe's Superfoods

All-that-Jazz gets a treat on the stand and her favorite is cranberry-apple juice.

Herbal Remedies for Goats, by Christine Abbey, MH

Superfoods, by David Wolfe

Black's Veterinary Dictionary, by Geoffrey West

Goat Health & Welfare - a Veterinary Guide by David Harwood

Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale Press

The Herb Book, by John Lust

The Good Herb, by Judith Benn Hurley

Univ. of FL, Gainsville, Large Animal Hospital 352-392-2229 Emergencies

New Tampa Animal Hospital, Lutz, FL, Dr. Ricci and Dr. Kahan    813-949-8448

**I am not a veterinarian or an herbalist (yet!). This is what worked for us, it is not a guarantee. The information included is not a diagnosis of a disease or meant to be an absolute cure for a disease. This article is shared in good faith and is informational only. No one mentioned in this article shall be held responsible for any damages and we disclaim all liability with the use of this information or any mentioned products. You should always consult a medical doctor or veterinarian to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. 

Maureen H. Herrera,

Director, FGDA


J memee said...

Excellent informative article, thanks so much for this. Another thing I have had success with was to give probiotics, especially when giving antibiotics. The antibiotics kill all the bacteria in the gut-good and bad- so they need to be repopulated. Another product I have found helpful in my herd is Diamond V yeast-green. It contains bvitamins and keeps the rumen healthy. Finally, what I tell everyone who listens is please feed organic. With all the GMOS in regular corn, soybeans, etc it really helps. They have done studies with pigs that support the suspicion that gmos contribute to poor health in animals.... You can choose to post this but if not, please read about this for your own information, as it is very important. Good luck with your goats, you have done such a good job already!!!

Jeri said...

Thanks for the info, J. I share your concerns about the use of GMOs.

Crooked Shade Farm said...

Wonderful article. I use drugs infrequently, choosing to use homeopathy and herbs primarily. This article is so very useful in so many ways, and I'm glad to see confirmation that, yes indeed, alternatives can succeed where conventional medicine gives up.

Emil Kate and Mila said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of this information!! I have a 3 month Dowling that I've been treating for 2 weeks now for listeriosis. It looks like you wrote this your goat was doing better. Has she recovered fully? How many weeks do you think the whole process since treatment began was?
Thank you again for sharing your story and treatment plan.

Emil Kate and Mila said...

Sorry- I just re-read what I wrote. I was sending from a cell phone. I guess my main question is- how is your goat now?