A study was undertaken to determine whether domestic goats can serve as patent hosts of Elaphostrongylus cervi under natural or experimental conditions. Three-hundred and two fecal samples from 124 domestic goats raised outdoors in New Zealand, where E. cervi is enzootic, were tested for nematode larvae by the Baermann method. All samples were negative for E. cervi dorsal-spined larvae. Twenty juvenile male Nubian and Saanen goats obtained locally were assigned randomly to 5 dosage groups and were orally administered 5, 15, 35, 65, or 125 third-stage larvae of E. cervi, respectively. Two yearling female red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus) each received 35 or 65 third-stage larvae as positive controls, and 2 uninoculated juvenile male goats served as negative controls. Fecal Baermann testing of pooled samples from the inoculated goats was conducted weekly for the first 80 days postinoculation (DPI) and daily thereafter until 250 DPI. No dorsal-spined larvae were recovered. One goat that had received 15 third-stage larvae displayed a mild transient posterior ataxia suggestive of cerebrospinal elaphostrongylosis. Gross postmortem examination did not reveal any direct evidence of nematodes in any of the goats, and only a few minor lesions were present. Histologically, these lesions were consistent with a parasite etiology. Histological evaluation of grossly normal lumbar and sacral spinal cord from 2 goats that had each received 125 third-stage larvae revealed eosinophilic meningoencephalitis and leukomyelitis, respectively, suggestive of the presence of parasites in the central nervous system. The 2 positive control red deer became patent with dorsal-spined larvae consistent with E. cervi at 131 DPI. These findings suggest that goats, at least those breeds utilized in this study, are not suitable patent hosts for E. cervi.

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