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BLACK WIDOW SPIDER POISONING IN THE GOAT
Article requested by The K-State School of Veterinary Medicine, and also
Countryside Small Stock Journal, May/June issue
C l996 Alva Irish, PhD, DN, DHM, DD, FBIH
|A mysterious case was presented to me involving two pregnant young
goats, of various breeds, out of a herd of 20, all alike, all pregnant.
All goats received the same feed, all had access to fresh water,
sulphur salt, dairy mineral, and a natural protein lick. None of the other
does presented the symptoms, as described as follows:
The two does, began with a short cough, watery, then silence, until
the second stage, approximately two hours later.
Appearance of the does, was haggard, head low, ears low, but not
Pregnancy toxemia type, a mild anxious look of the face, and slightly
flaring nostrils. (flapping alae)
Does were very large in the abdomen, one looked as if she were a
walking medicine ball.
These does were of a meat breed, bred for a 300-400% kid crop, so
this feature was overlooked at first, as kid loading.
The does (both at the same time) began marching with their front
legs, stiff from shoulder to hoof, chin tucked in, and obviously in pain
To graze, they had to get on their knees. Stiffness of the back was
also observed. Hind legs were fine. Vulva was swollen to delivery size.
Parturition was a month and a half off. Incontinence of the urine was also
observed, the tail hair of these two does was continually wet, and a drop of
urine was observed to be constantly on the tip of the vulva.
Large black "freckles" appeared on the pink underside of the tail,
and on the pink part of the nose and lips.
Sulphur 1M was given for the difficulty in rising, the black spots, and
the messy appearance, lack of desire to "work", painful, burning soles, etc.
with no response.
Next, Rhus Tox 1M was given, in spite of the fact that goats in general
can eat with relish, poison ivy all day long with no effect. This was given for
the stiffness, also with no improvement.
No belly movement was observed in one of the does, indicating that her
kids were also affected.
Lycopodium 1M was given next, with a small amount of improvement in both
does, and repeated the next day. No appreciably improvement was recorded after
the first initial one.
Phytolacca Decandra 1M was then given, which worsened their condition,
and Nux Vomica was given to antidote immediately.
Silicea 200C was then given, and also they were given to eat several
pine branches (Pinus Sylvestre) for weakness of the legs. Some small improvement was
noted, but not enough to pull them out of whatever had a hold of them.
Calcarea carbonica 1M was given 6 days later, as their legs now bowed
out at the shoulder blades, so that it looked like their shoulders were held
on by strings. Both does' right "Spider Poisoning" hoof turned under at the
fetlock, to the inside of the foot, so that they looked as if they were
walking on the sides of their fetlocks. Their tendons appeared to be completely
loose, and unable to hold their bones together properly.
Their vulvular swelling was worsening, and pushing out from the inside,
so Sepia 10M was given immediately. This alleviated the incontinence, and gave
the does more interest in their companions.
Calcarea carbonica 1M was repeated three days later, with a little
Two days later, Phosphoricum 1M was given, with a little improvement,
appearance became brighter after the first dose of Calc, then with the second
dose, and the Phos, appearance (facial) became brighter with each dose.
The doe that I observed no fetal movement in was given cortisone by
our local Veterinarian, and lutease 15 days after the initial symptoms to
abort the dead fetuses. Three days later, the abortion was completed, with
the delivery of two very large partially decomposed fetuses.
The other doe improved enough to graze with the others, and was
carrying her fetuses well, so she was not aborted.
Pulsatilla symptoms were observed in the aborted doe, so both she and
the other doe were given Pulsatilla 1M for inflammation of the ligaments,
with the result of much improved stance in both does. Calc Phos 200 C was
also given, 4 hours apart, to both does.
Another doe, meanwhile was observed to have the same short cough, and
the beginning of the same symptoms, and was refusing to move, just like the
beginnings of the other two doe's illness or condition.
I searched the bed, and found a nest of Black Widow Spiders,crushed, and
also found some in this does' hair.
I searched the first two doe's hair coat,
and found shriveled black widow spider parts in their hair also.
I immediately administered Ledum palustre 200 C,
the specific antidote of choice for Spider bite, to the third doe, and
observed immediate improvement and elimination of all symptoms.
I administered Ledum to the first two does also.
The first two does were heavily treated for liver poisoning, with the
remedies chosen, and that is probably why they did not expire, the two kids of
the one doe, obviously did not fare as well, the poison killing them in the
Had I known of this progression, I would have been able to administer the
proper remedy at once, and averted all lameness, and pregnancy complications.
The two does will not be re-bred this Fall, in order to let their
bodies heal from their bout with the spider poison. The one pregnant doe
continues to graze with the others, but still has weakness residually in her
front legs, so that she occasionally has to go down on her knees to graze,
but not often. The aborted doe also has these residuals.
Both does elbows are flat to their bodies, like normal, instead of
being held away from their bodies, and their tendons are much stronger, feet
straight, and knees straight.
The third doe, a few days later, was given Lycopodium 10M for watery
coughing, and gouty symptoms. She immediately began to play in the field, and
was completely cured.
Fast action is the key here, so if you see this progression, think
about the Black Widow Spider first.
I must mention that CAE, TETANUS, POLIO ENCEPHALITIS, and
CALCIUM/PHOSPHORUS imbalance were totally eliminated as a cause by testing
by the local Veterinarian. No joint swelling or inflammation were ever
Published in Countryside & Small Stock journal
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