Alpaca Diseases – How to Protect Your Herd

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Alpacas are hardy animals and do not become ill easily. When they do, they are very stoic and you may not know they are ill until it's to late. Prevention is always the best way to protect your herd.

One of the most horrific alpaca diseases an alpaca can get is meningeal worm. This parasite infects an alpacas brain or spinal cord and can cause severe neurological damage and death.

If you live in an area with white-tailed deer, you probably have meningeal worm in your area. The m. worm lives in a deer without causing problems. The deer sheds them and snails or slugs become an intermediate host which your alpaca may eat and then became infected with the m. worm where it migrates to the brain or spinal cord. M. worm can be treated if the neurological damage is not too severe but the neurological damage caused by the infection is irreversible.

Prevention m. worm is done by giving worming medicine monthly from spring to fall when snails and slugs are present. The dosage is based on weight and a vet can tell you how to inject the medicine and tell you what dosage you need to give your alpacas.

Another one of the alpaca diseases, although still rare, is West Nile Virus and it can be fatal. Mosquitos carry this disease. There is a vaccine for horses that has been tested in Llamas and Alpacas. Ask your vet if the vaccination is appropriate for your area.

Another mosquito borne disease that alpacas can become infected with is Eastern Equine Enchephalitis. It, too, can be fatal. This disease is found mainly along the eastern seaboard and Gulf coast of the United States. There is, also, a vaccine being tested on alpacas for this disease. Ask your vet for an update on whether you should vaccinate your herd or not.

Both of these alpaca diseases cause neurological symptoms. Seizures, ataxia (loss of coordination), head tilt, tremors, etc.

To prevent these two alpaca diseases in your herd, keep the mosquito population down. Keeping the mosquito population down includes draining standing water, mowing vegetation around ponds, and aerating water so that mosquito larvae have less chance of surviving.

Most important to preventing alpaca diseases is to become educated about the animals you own or are about to own. Understanding what diseases can affect your animals will help you know how to prevent these and other diseases.

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Source by Debby McCandless

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