A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 19, 2007

Controlling Coccidiosis

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Health, Alpaca Shows, Alpacas, Crias, General — alpacalady @ 7:58 am

With the unusually wet weather that has been in the Southwest and Midwest this year comes all sorts of extra conditions and concerns.   As we are close to Texas we subscribe to press releases from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and find the press releases most interesting.  Typically the press releases relate to horses, cattle or deer but it is always good to have an idea of the current threats to animal health.

On July 13 the TAHC issued a press release reminding livestock owners that “Rushing water, stagnant ponds, or even the dry stages after wet periods can
lead to outbreaks of livestock disease” The press release goes on to discuss the risk of disease from mosquitos and biting flies and current livestock diseases that are being found in Texas.

Coccidiosis was not mentioned in the TAHC press release but I am hearing from other alpaca breeders in the Southwest that it seems to be more prevalent than normal.  The wet conditions have no doubt contributed to the increase in cases of coccidiosis.  Birds are typically the carrier of coccidia, although once coccidia are in your herd it is possible for alpacas to infect other alpacas usually by contact with fecal matter.

Coccidiosis can vary tremendously in virulence and while some animals will develop mild symptoms others can develop more severe infections that can be fatal.

We currently have a weanling alpaca boarding at our farm whose mother died from coccidiosis while she was away for breeding.  I suspect that she encountered one of the more severe forms of coccidiosis and perhaps her immune system was already comprimised by the stress of being away from home or maybe some other mild illness that was not very symptomatic (remember alpacas are notoriously stoic and don’t usually let on that they are ill until they are really ill).

When the orphaned weanling alpaca arrived at our farm he was of course put into quarantine with a couple of other alpacas.  We then decided to treat that pen of alpacas with a preventative coccidial treatment just to be on the safe side.  so far the little guy is doing well and hopefully we will be able to reunite him with his owner in a couple of months time when we meet up at a show.

The symptoms of coccidiosis can vary but typically diarrhea will be present, often quite liquid and sometimes with blood in it.  Other symptoms can be weight loss, lethargy and the animal being off it’s food.

If you suspect coccidiosis in your herd it is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian and run some fecal tests to verify that coccidiosis is what you are dealing with.  It can be hard to detect especially in watery diarrhea, but you will need to be guided by the experience and expertise of your veterinarian as to what treatment protocol to follow.  When treating for coccidia be aware that some coccidia treatments can cause a mild form of polio in alpacas.  If you start treating your alpacas for coccidia and you notice a change for the worse in them call your veterinarian immediately for the necessary advice.

As of now our herd seems to be clear of coccidial infections, but we will continue to be as vigilant as ever when it comes to our herd health in order to be able to nip the problem in the bud should it arise.

If you are interested in receiving press releases from TAHC you can go to their website and sign up for email notification of the press releases.

Rosemary

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