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Joint Ill or Navel Ill? — Things to Know About Caring for Umbilical Cords

Joint ill or Navel ill in goats

Does your goat’s umbilicus seem hot, painful, and moist? Are you wondering why its joints are swollen, thus preventing him from standing up?

Don’t overlook these signs because they could indicate that your animal is suffering from a potentially deadly infection called joint ill or navel ill!

But what is the difference between these two and how can you save your four-legged friend?

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the science behind navel or umbilical cord infection and discuss the:

  • Causes of joint and navel ill and what animals are at risk
  • Symptoms you need to look out for and umbilical cord infection treatments
  • Care tips for the umbilical cord of goats, lambs, and calves

Time is crucial in saving your animal’s life so without further ado, let’s get right into it.

navel ill calves

What is Navel ill?

Navel ill is a bacterial inflammation or infection of the navel or umbilicus of animals like calves and goats.

Umbilicus refers to the external remnant of the umbilical cord composed of two umbilical arteries: the umbilical vein and urachus.

These structures transport oxygen and nutrients from the placenta to the fetus and eliminate urine waste.

Since umbilical cords serve as a passageway, it is still open for a time after the kid is born. It gives the bacteria an opportunity to enter the animal’s body through it.

Joint Ill or Navel Ill Things to Know About Caring for Umbilical Cords

Animals Infected by Joint ill or Navel ill

Joint ill or navel ill occurs in lambs, calves, and goats. And the bacterial infection in these animals starts with poor hygiene during kidding.

This condition is also seen in piglets. However, joint ill in piglets is usually called arthritis since it affects primarily the joints of young pigs.

When the infection enters the bloodstream, it will circulate around the body and will settle in joints and other parts like the brain.

navel ill in lambs

What Are the Causes of Navel ill?

One of the leading causes of navel ill is E. coli, a rod-shaped bacteria that live in the intestines and guts of animals and humans. Some are helpful in keeping the intestinal tracts healthy. But other kinds are harmful and may cause various diseases.

What Are The Clinical Signs of Navel ill?

You’ll know if your goat, calf, or lamb is experiencing navel ill if his umbilicus is hot, painful, and swollen.

  • An abscess may also develop that may produce pus that may burst.
  • Your animal may also lose appetite and look dull and reluctant to suck.

Differential diagnosis veterinary surgeons consider includes the following:

Localized peritonitis

It’s a type of inflammation of the tissues that line the belly or abdomen. And it is localized in the demarcated region of the peritoneal cavity; a space between the parietal peritoneum that contains the omentum, ligaments, and mesentery.

Umbilical hernia

This disease creates a soft swelling or bulge near the navel of the animal. It happens when a part of the intestine protrudes via the umbilical opening in the abdominal muscles.

Urachal infection

It is another infection caused by bacteria from the urachal sinus.

But before making a diagnosis, your vert may conduct clinical examinations to check if there are other focal bacterial infections.

Your veterinary surgeon may also run ultrasonography to check the umbilical vessels and urachus’ involvement and distinguish umbilical abscess from a hernia.

Navel ill Treatment

Navel infection treatment involves injecting high doses of antibiotics like penicillin for 5 to 7 days. But it must be given early because the prognosis is hopeless for animals with acute peritoneal infection.

Your veterinary surgeon may also prescribe other antibiotics for calves with meningitis and polyarthritis.

After a needle aspirate or ultrasonography, the surgeon may also lance the umbilical abscesses and cleanse them daily for three to five days.

Navel disease may remain and localize to the navel. But it may lead to focal infections like joint ill and meningitis in worse cases.

joint ill in calves

So, What is Joint ill?

Joint ill is the infection of the joint and potentially the adjacent bones. Usually, the bacteria enter the gut within a few hours after birth before colostrum ingestion.

What Are the Causes of Joint ill?

Joint ill is due to an infection that enters through the umbilical cord soon or after birth.

But aside from the umbilical cord, bacteria can break through the skin or the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract.

There are multiple bacteria that cause joint ill, and it includes the following.

1. Gram-positive bacteria or bacteria with thick peptidoglycan layers like Staphylococci and Streptococci.

2. Gram-negative( bacteria that have thin peptidoglycan layers) like coliforms E. coli.

3. Foaling difficulties and placentitis may also be one of the causes.

But generally, joint illness is due to environmental factors like poor sanitation and ventilation. Overcrowding and inappropriate umbilical disinfection can also be the many causes of this disease.


What Are The Clinical Signs of Joint ill

The commonly affected joints in joint ill in goats include the carpus, hock, stifle and shoulder. Symptoms of joint ill in goats, calves, and lambs include the following:joint ill in lambs

  • Hot, swollen, and painful joint
  • Enlarged drainage lymph
  • In joint ill in goats, limbs cannot bear weight, and kids’ affected legs may not be able to stand.
  • Calves with two or more affected limbs may have a crab-like stance
  • The animal may experience fever, but it won’t affect the appetite.
  • The navel may or may not appear inflamed.
  • An abscess may develop on the navel after the kid’s recovery.

Another symptom of joint ill in calves, goats, and lambs is the pain brought about by septic joint, synovial reaction, and erosion of articular cartilage.

The differential diagnoses your veterinary surgeon will also consider are:

  • Fracture of a long bone
  • Trauma to joint(s)
  • Inflammation or swelling in the bone
  • Softening and weakening of bones
  • Muscular dystrophy

Your veterinary surgeon can obtain clinical findings and diagnosis by taking a sample joint fluid for analysis and culture and radiographs.

The culture samples will help determine the best antibiotics.

Joint ill Treatment

Animals suffering from joint ill may need to be separated or quarantined to ensure the safety of other herd members. Then, their condition must be taken care of before it becomes severe and cost your animals life.

Joint ill treatment in goats and other animals may include the combination of the following:

  • High doses of Antibiotic for 1 week combined with careful nursing
  • Joint ill in goats’ treatment may also require IV fluids and other support
  • Arthroscopic joint lavage with antibiotic treatment for joint ill in lambs and calves
  • Regional limb perfusion with antibiotics for joint ill in goats
  • Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Gastro protectants for ulcer protection during the treatment
  • You may also need to provide slings for kids who have developed ankylosis too to support them.

How Long Does It Take for Animals to Recover from Joint iIll?

The recovery time for joint ill may vary depending on the stage of the infection. If detected at an early stage, the animal may be able to recover a few weeks after the antibiotic treatment.

But sadly, even high doses of antibiotics cannot save those at the severe late stages where there’s already a pus formation and synovial reaction in the joints.

In this kind of unfortunate case, euthanasia is the only economical option, especially for large commercial herds with severely affected goat kids.

Preventing Navel Ill in Cattle, Goats, and Lambs

How to Prevent Navel and Joint ill in Cattle, Goats, and Lambs

Hygiene plays a crucial part in joint and navel ill. So, here are some prevention and care tips for the umbilical cords that can save your herd from diseases.

Ensure that the environment is clean and not wet

Bacteria love to nestle in a wet environment. So, you need to keep your animal’s barn or pen free from mud and manures. You also make sure everything in pen or barn is clean and disinfect them if necessary.

If you learn that they’re in a contaminated area, move them as soon as possible and disinfect them and that area.

Disinfect the umbilical cord with iodine

To prevent joint ill and belly button infection, fully immerse the navel into a jar that contains a 7% tincture of iodine. If you don’t feel like touching it, you may use a spray to spray the navel thoroughly soon after birth.

The iodine will be deactivated after several uses. So, if you’re using an iodine dip in disinfecting, you have to change the solution every 2 to 3 animals.

Aside from disinfecting, the purpose of iodine is to dry up the umbilical cord, so it must have 7% strength to achieve that goal.

Clip the navel first

You need to clip the navel or belly button before treating it with iodine if it’s long and drags in the mud and manure.

It can help the iodine penetrate faster and speed up the drying process.

If you decide to clip the navel, wait until the umbilicus has stopped pulsing and leave at least 2 inches linked to the body. Take note that if you cut it too quickly or too short, it may lead to profuse bleeding.

If the navel doesn’t dry up after 24 hours, you need to treat it with iodine once more.

Provide clean beddings

The navel will get contaminated again as soon as the newborn animal lies in a dirty environment, so you need to provide dry and clean goat bedding like wood shavings or straw.

Clean your footwear

Since hygiene in their pen is crucial, you need to make sure your footwear is clean to prevent spreading bacteria.

Vaccinate the mother

Vaccination can boost the mother cows, does, and ewes’ immunity and their babies.

Provided sufficient colostrum

You can also prevent umbilical cord infection and navel ill in lambs, goats, and calves by giving enough colostrum during the first six hours after birth. The recommended amount is 50ml/kg in the first 2 hours and 10% of their body weight in the first 24hrs.

Frequently Asked Question About Joint Ill and Navel Ill

What causes joint ill?

Joint ill is a disease caused by a bacterial infection that enters through the umbilical cord during or soon after birth.

It often infects animals like calves, lambs, and goats born in poor sanitary conditions with delayed or inadequate colostrum intake.

Can joint ill be cured?

Treatment with high doses of antibiotics can help treat this bacterial infection if diagnosed early. You may have to separate infected animals while treating them with antibiotics and pain killers.

However, severe cases may not recover despite prolonged antibiotic treatment. So, your animal’s survival depends on the stage of infection.

What does joint ill look like in lambs?

You’ll know if your lamb is suffering from joint ill if the affected joints are hot, swollen, and painful. The lamb may also appear to be dull, feverish, and unthrifty.

Other lambs may show symptoms of pneumonia or meningitis, and they usually lie down most of the time.

Will penicillin treat joint ill in goats?

Yes, it can help, and it’s best to use a penicillin antibiotic, especially if your goat kid’s infected is due to Streptococci bacteria.
You may also give an anti-inflammatory injection to reduce the inflammation.

Other treatments can help alleviate the pain like a massage of swollen joints.

How do you treat a navel ill in lambs?

The treatment usually includes giving antibiotics like penicillin for 5 to 10 days. However, you need to talk with your vet to determine the stage of the infection and the appropriate measures to take to avoid harming your lamb.

Final Takeaways About Joint Ill or Navel Ill

To sum it up, the difference between joint ill and navel ill lies in the localization of the infection.

If the infection starts on the umbilical cord and localizes on the navel, then it is called navel ill. However, if the infection spreads to the gut and intestines, and joints, it’s now considered a joint ill.

Joint ill in lambs, calves, and goat kids are treatable with antibiotics if it’s at an early stage. So, if you want to keep your animals safe, you need to look out for signs of navel ill and goat ill.

READ NEXT: Goat Diseases And Sickness

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