Floppy Kid Syndrome (FKS)

Introduction/Causative Agent: Floppy kid syndrome is an emerging disease of young kid goats. The actual causative agent for this syndrome has not been determined; however, this problem is always associated with metabolic acidosis (an abnormally low pH throughout the body). Some type of gastrointestinal disease is strongly suspected to be the cause for this syndrome.

Clinical Signs: Affected kids are normal at birth. By 3-10 days of age, signs of weakness that can involve the entire body come on suddenly. Kids are often reluctant to suckle, and lethargy is a common finding. The kid may cough, drool, and have a distended abdomen. Most animals die within 24-36 hours after the symptoms begin. The signs that are normally associated with metabolic acidosis such as diarrhea, dehydration, or difficulty breathing (dyspnea) are not observed. Consider the following information before assuming FKS is the problem:

Diagnosis: This problem is diagnosed based on clinical signs and blood chemistry (metabolic acidosis, decreased bicarbonate, normal to increased chloride, and occasionally, low potassium) findings.

Problems such as white muscle disease, abomasal bloat, colibacillosis, septicemia, or enterotoxemia can also cause a young kid to be lethargic and weak. Because of this, special care should be taken to avoid misdiagnosing a case of floppy kid syndrome. To help avoid misdiagnosis, it is highly recommended to submit any sudden-death cases for necropsy in order to aid in the determination of the exact cause.

Treatment: Early detection and correction of the metabolic acidosis is essential. This can often be accomplished in more mild cases by administering oral baking soda (1/2 tsp. in cold water) when signs are first noticed. More severe cases need to be treated with isotonic intravenous (IV) 1.3% sodium bicarbonate solution. To make up this IV solution, refer to F145. Supportive care (oral fluids, shelter, and heat) is also critical. Some kids may need to be fed milk by a stomach tube due to their reluctance to suckle. If FKS is the problem, dramatic improvement is noted after giving the bicarbonate (within 2 hours).

Studies indicate that the administration of antibiotics or vitamin/mineral supplements do not seem to improve the results. Furthermore, recovery without treatment can occur in some severely affected cases. Because of these observations, treatment with antibiotics and other minerals or vitamins is not recommended at this time. Some animals may take up to 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. Relapses have also been reported.