For the last few days, I have been treating our goat, Cookie, for an infection caused by deer meningeal worm, the Latin name for which is Paralaphostrongylus tenius. Normally it infects deer, but goats and sheep, along with some camelid species, are secondary hosts. Goats can get it from eating a slug or a snail, which is the intermediate host for this nasty parasite. It gets into their central nervous system by entering the brain or spinal cord, and is often fatal.
We found this out because we took Cookie to the University of Iowa large animal clinic after we noticed her dragging her rear legs. They did a spinal fluid test and found elevated levels of eosinophils in the fluid. This is a sign of the infection. So, she has been on massive doses of deworming medications (2 different ones) as well as a steroid. The poor little goat is only 6 months old and is very sweet, so the idea of her dying from this horrible parasite is extremely upsetting. We are doing our very best to bring her back to health, even if she has a permanent limp, which can happen if they do actually live.
So, this week I learned how to give sub-cutaneous (sub-q) and intramuscular (IM) injections to a goat. This has not been a lifelong yearning desire of mine, but now that I have goats and chickens, I guess it was time to learn. I feel better having learned how to do this task, even if it doesn't help this time around. To be honest, it was more difficult getting through the skin than I expected. Goats are tough skinned! Or maybe humans are just thin skinned. I haven't given myself any injections but I've poked myself with pins or sewing needles often enough to know it's not that hard to get through my skin!
Today, although I am very guarded about this, I am slightly optimistic. I carried Cookie outside to let her eat some fresh clover since it was so nice out, even though she has been housed inside the barn since she became unwell. She actually stood on her own for a few seconds after I helped her up. Then she leaned against my leg for a while as she munched on the clover. I don't want to get my hopes too high, but I really hope she makes it.
If you have the inclination, please send healing thoughts, prayers, white beams of healing light, or whatever else you believe in, to my little Cookie. Here she is just a week or so ago, in better times.