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Sanctuary One cancels event over sick goats

An infection that has hit some goats at the Sanctuary One animal rescue farm has prompted organizers to nix a free annual event at the Applegate facility.

Open Farm Day, originally set for Saturday, has been canceled because of public health concerns. It will not be rescheduled, and Sanctuary One staff have been contacting anyone who had signed up.

Officials say a "mild infectious disease" — likely ringworm or Orf virus — is affecting a portion of the goats living on the farm. A veterinarian spotted a symptom common in both — little pustules that look like pimples or barber's rash on the animals' chins, gums and mouth — during a routine visit last week.

"There's a group of probably six or seven (goats) that we're watching really closely. A couple of them we know have it," said Sanctuary One Operations Manager Brian Kiesse. "The complicating factor is they're in a different part of the farm from the rest of the goats, and we know at least one goat has transferred back and forth."

It isn't known how the animals got sick, a factor that's further complicated by the fact that all the animals went to temporary foster homes earlier this year as a precaution because of the Miller Complex fires raging nearby.

Both diseases are transmissible to humans, which prompted a full quarantine of the animals until further notice. They are all expected to make a full recovery. Culture results on which illness it is are not available yet.

Orf is a pox-like virus, while ringworm is a fungus, Kiesse said. The former just needs to run its course, while the latter has treatment options.

"A lot of it depends on what the final diagnosis is," Kiesse said.

Either way, Sanctuary One officials say they are not taking chances. In addition to canceling Open Farm Day, the facility has canceled several field trips.

"Think of this as an outbreak of chicken pox, except that people can catch this from animals," Sanctuary One Animal Care Manager Melissa Hamre said in a news release. "We're being abundantly cautious for the sake of all people and animals involved."

Sanctuary One employees have been handling all animals with gloves and are partaking in rigorous, constant hand washing and feet washing, Kiesse said. 

"We're just doing the best bio-security we can," Kiesse said.

See www.sanctuaryone.org for more information.

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

A curious goat is photographed in early September at Sanctuary One in the Applegate Valley. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]