Monday, November 09, 2015

A sad story .....

We recently heard of this small alpaca enterprise and its struggle with biosecurity and zoonotic tuberculosis in its animals. The story also charts the added stress, anger and disbelief of the alpaca owners after their dealings with the government agency charged with eradicating zTB.
This body is now called APHA - the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

 The owners of Wellground Alpaca stud in Wiltshire, have listed on Facebook, a video diary telling the sad story of the havoc - [link] that TB can bring to any farm. When they attended the alpaca Futurity show in Coventry last March, and chose a new bloodline for their herd of animals, little did they realise the heartache this would cause. - [video link]

But added to the stress of losing this animal and its cria, was the shambles that is APHA, struggling to operate a TB eradication system which does not mention camelids, compassion or even common sense.

The Facebook diary reports that agency's communication was intermittent and often contradictory. Its stock of validated (but still poor) blood tests, patchy and the whole process of screening the remaining animals and for some, their destruction, far more prolonged, stressful and potentially dangerous, than it should have been.

From August to November 2015, the whole sad story is laid bare in this Facebook blog, ending with last week's entry from November 6th:
I have to admit now that I am struggling to keep this FB page going. It's hard to describe to anyone who has not gone through this. Those who have been through it will have a better understanding.

I have read how having bTB in a herd of alpacas has had terrible effects on people psychologically. Now I understand that. The problem is a culmination of events. It was bad at the beginning as you find out the horror of what has happened. Then that horror subsides as you become accustomed to your predicament. But the worst was yet to come.

The culling of animals that were not showing signs of illness is a terrible thing to have to do. Unlike sick animals being put out of their misery, they do not go quietly, your favourite babies fight you in trying not to die.And you don't want to be doing it anyway, you love them. It was beyond my imagination.

Now I don't sleep at night, reliving that awful day every night. Then the final insult to your sanity, the silent waiting for the next test after 90 days. It's a long wait.

Dreading the next test every day. It's the last thing you think of in bed at night and the first thing you think of if you wake from any sleep. Then I make myself write this FB page and I try to keep it all inoffensive.

Why? I must be mad. So if you don't hear from me for a while, hopefully you'll understand. Rob
For our readers, here are a few links to TB in alpacas, a subject which sadly, we have kept returning to.

A video clip of the effect of TB in alpacas - [link] which we posted in 2010, and this one, again from 5 years ago,  showing 'biosecurity' at shows. - [link]   

And then there are Defra's statistics for alpaca TB deaths, which at one point held a list of exclusions longer than the tables themselves. We highlighted some of the imaginative explanatory notes in this posting - link] and had a small success and a more realistic update when George met Eddy - [link] in 2013.

 The breed society (BAS)- [link] for alpacas has been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic, about promoting herd health of the alpacas it claims to support. Even when breeders are exporting the problem - [link] to other countries. Their fliers also seem to be much more keen on not culling animals which do not have TB (specificity of a test) than finding the ones which do (sensitivity) as we describe in this posting. - [link]

But all of this biosecurity advice is voluntary. Alpacas can and do move around not only being bought or sold, but to shows, agistments and matings with no records or tests for disease whatsoever. These are 'recommended' but not mandatory. - [link] And so often the result is a nightmare story like the one Wellground alpacas have described in their blog.

For more information on TB in alpacas, please visit the Alpaca TB website. - [link]

And please do not forget the reason why zoonotic Tuberculosis is such a dangerous killer - [link]
Two years on from that posting, we wish Diane Summers well in her continued struggle with this disease.

Alpacas are charming animals, but this type of encounter,

can so easily lead to this.

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