Saturday, 9 October 2010

New Website

We have been sent the following press release regarding a new website dedicated to TB in alpacas.


New Website bTB in Alpacas and llamas (Camelids)


Dianne Summers, Dr Gina Bromage, and recently resigned B.A.S. Chair Mike Birch have developed a new website dedicated to the subject of bTB in Camelids.

The purpose of the website is two-fold – first and foremost is to help camelid herds who come down to Tb and secondly to educate camelid owners on the serious issue of bTB with the hope it will reduce the risk of it happening to them.

Prior to its release we have sent the Website to:

1. All the members of the TB Support Group (Owners who have been or are currently under restriction and that are members of the Group) Not all camelid owners who have been affected by Tb join the Group.

We wanted to make sure the members of the TB Support group were happy with the content because after all it is their data that they have kindly provided that has produced many of the documents on the site.

2. To a small selection of the TB Update Group (Alpaca owners/vets/etc who want to learn everything they can on TB in camelids)

3. Our contacts at DEFRA, VLA and Animal Health who work closely with the Camelid TB Support group.

We wanted to make sure DEFRA VLA AH were also happy with its content and we needed them to verify we hadn’t given out any wrong information.

We asked for feedback comments and suggestions from all 3 groups and set them a deadline of Wednesday October 6th. We then made changes accordingly.

We did not get one negative feedback. All feedback was positive and constructive.

Without exception, all supported the new website – all agreed it was highly informative and contained a wealth of information all in one place.

We hope you feel the same.

Please email the website link www.alpacatb.org to anyone you know who owns, or has an interest in camelids, and ask them to do the same. Information and knowledge is our best weapon at present.

We have asked that the B.A.S. British Alpaca Society and B.L.S. British llama Society inform all their members about the website by email and put a link to it on their respective websites.

All updates from now on will be on the website so please check the website often for up to date news and information.

Kindest Regards

Dianne Summers – Gina Bromage and Mike Birch
www.alpacatb.org
email : support@alpacatb.org

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Wales To Push Ahead With Badger Cull

The following article is from Farmers Guardian. The article can be found here

Wales to push ahead with badger cull
20 September 2010 By Alistair Driver

THE Welsh assembly Government is to push ahead with plans for a badger cull, Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones has announced.

She is publishing a new draft Order that will pave the way for a cull over five years in west Wales. The new Order has been drafted to overcome the flaws that saw the original Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009, which would have permitted culling to begin this summer, thrown out in July after the Court of Appeal ruled it was unlawful.

While the original Order applied to the whole of Wales, the new draft order is specific to the proposed Intensive Action Area, covering north Pembrokeshire and including areas of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. This part of Wales has one of the highest bovine TB rates in Europe.

WAG has also increased its estimate of the likely benefits of a cull. It said it expected to have reduced bovine TB in cattle in the area by approximately 22 per cent, preventing an estimated 83 confirmed herd breakdowns that would otherwise have occurred.

It stressed that was a ‘conservative estimate’. The additional surveillance and controls on cattle that the Assembly Government has already put in place in the Intensive Action Area are designed to generate further reductions, Ms Jones said.

There are 321 cattle farms in the Intensive Action Area and nearly 70 per cent of them have been affected by bovine TB in the past seven years. Under the proposals, there would be an annual cull of badgers over a five year period.

The Assembly Government’s ‘comprehensive package’ also includes enhanced cattle surveillance and controls, as well as improved biosecurity on farms.

Announcing the development on a farm: Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones said: “I remain committed to tackling the bovine TB crisis in Wales. It is a situation that I cannot and will not allow to continue.

“I will state again that the cost of this disease in the last ten years, when nearly 100,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Wales, is more than £120 million. This is tax payer’s money the Assembly Government has paid out to farmers in compensation.

“Most experts agree that badgers play an important role in the transmission of bovine TB and that we will not eradicate TB if we do not tackle the disease in both wildlife and cattle.”

She added that the evidence shows, through a number of trials that reducing the numbers of badgers in TB endemic areas can reduce TB in cattle.

Ms Jones said: “Our critics claim that vaccination of badgers is the answer. Vaccination of badgers has not yet been proved to reduce cattle TB and does not cure badgers that already have TB. It does not provide complete protection; rather it reduces the progress of the disease in a vaccinated badger, and the risk of onward spread of infection to other badgers and cattle. Vaccination cannot resolve this problem on its own.

“I am satisfied that in the Intensive Action Area there is no reasonably practicable or satisfactory alternative to culling badgers as a means of reducing TB in cattle. This is because it is the only proven method currently available to me.”

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Badger Cull Proposal

This is a report from earlier in the week.

Badger cull: Government plans will allow farmers to shoot badgers

15 September 2010 By Alistair Driver


FARMERS in TB hotspot areas of England will be permitted to shoot badgers on their land, under plans unveiled by Farming Minister Jim Paice this morning.
Mr Paice has published a three-month consultation on Government proposals to permit the licensed culling of badgers in England, possibly from next May.
Under the proposals, groups of farmers and landowners will come together in areas covering at least 150sq.km to apply collectively for licences to cull badgers on their land.
Two culling methods will be permitted, cage trapping and shooting and shooting free running badgers . The licence will also allow for badgers to be vaccinated in the designated area.
Farmers will cover the entire cost of the badger controls, with Defra's financial contribution limited to issuing the licences through Natural England and monitoring activities on the ground.
The decision to potentially allow free shooting is therefore highly significant as it represents a more affordable option for farmers who, as long as they possess the appropriate firearms licence, would be entitled to do it themselves.
To deploy cage traps, farmers would either have to be specially trained or rely on the services of trained contractors.
Free shooting was not used in the 10-year Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT), which exclusively deployed cage trapping and shooting. This proved to be expensive, however, due to the cost of the cages, exacerbated by regular vandalism, and the manpower required.
Gassing and snaring have both been ruled out as options by Defra on animal welfare grounds.
Under the proposals, badger control licences would be subject to strict criteria to ensure, Mr Paice said, that measures are carried out effectively, humanely and with high regard to animal welfare (click here to see the licence criteria).
The earliest that culling could begin where licences have been approved is next May, when the closed season for badger culling ends.
The three-month consultation closes on December 8. Mr Paice is planning to announce a final decision on the badger culling policy next spring as part of a comprehensive and balanced bTB eradication programme.
He also announced today some changes to cattle measures, including greater use of gamma interferon blood testing and an extension of two-year testing areas to provide a greater buffer between hotspots and clean areas. He confirmed that pre-movement testing will remain in place, following a review.
But he insisted that it require more than cattle controls to tackle bTB.
"Bovine TB is having a devastating effect on many farm businesses and families, he said. The situation is steadily getting worse the number of animals slaughtered each year is unacceptable and more farms are affected as the disease spreads across the country.
We cannot go on like this. It is clear the current approach has failed to stop the spread of this terrible disease. We need to take urgent action to halt its spread.
There is no single solution to tackling bovine TB. Cattle measures will remain the foundation of our bovine TB control programme but we will not succeed in eliminating the disease in cattle unless we also tackle the disease in badgers.
The science is clear, there is no doubt that badgers are a reservoir of the disease and transmit bovine TB to cattle. No other country in the world with a similar reservoir in wildlife has eradicated TB from cattle without stringent wildlife control measures. in eliminating the disease in cattle unless we also tackle the disease in badgers."

While vaccination will be an option under the proposals, Mr Paice said veterinary advice and available scientific evidence suggested that on its own it would not reduce disease as quickly culling.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

PCR - Could this be a way forward for detecting TB in Alpacas

UK scientists devise one-hour test for TB

This story originally appeared on BBC News.

Click here to view.

By Neil Bowdler Science reporter, BBC News Scientists in the UK say they have devised a new ultra-sensitive test which can diagnose the presence of the tuberculosis bacterium in one hour

The test has been developed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Its developers claim the test can spot all strains of the disease and could reduce both the incidence and the consequences of the disease worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2008, an estimated 1.3 million people died from TB worldwide.

Genetic signature

The standard identification test for TB involves taking mucus coughed up from the lungs and
growing a bacterial culture in the laboratory. But it can take up to eight weeks to reach a diagnosis, by which time the individual might have infected many more people.


Other more rapid tests exist which scan for an antigen found in many TB strains, but they
may not detect all infections, say the HPA.


The new test focuses on a particular DNA region within the bacterium which the researchers
says is present in all strains of the disease.


Once a sample is taken, a scientific technique know as a "polymerase chain reaction" is
used to amplify the volume of DNA available so that the genetic signature can be identified.
In the UK, around 9,000 cases of TB are reported each year, mainly in big cities like London .


Source: World Health Organization/HPA


This is a new test, says the HPA's Dr Cath Arnold, who led the study. "We're looking for a genetic marker which is present in all strains of TB we've seen so far. We're confident that it will pick up very small amounts and tests so far have show that it seems to be as sensitive as the gold standard of using culture, but there are various aspects which we need to develop further before we can offer it as an off-the-shelf product."


Details of the work are being presented at the HPA's annual conference at the University of
Warwick.



The HPA test comes just weeks after details of a rival project were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


The rival test is called Xpert MTB/RIF and its developers claim it can deliver a diagnosis in under two hours. They say their automated cartridge machine can also identify resistance to drugs used to treat TB.


The diagnoses of TB is extremely difficult today. If you had a test which rapidly and at the point of care could detect TB immediately you would gain weeks or months in treating that person and avoid them going around for another five to eight weeks infecting others.


The WHO estimates that a third of the world's population carry TB bacteria. Only 5-10% of
people who are infected become sick or infectious at some time during their life.


People with HIV and who carry TB bacteria are much more likely to develop the disease.


Recent years have seen a resurgence in TB infections in developed countries, and have seen
the rise of strains resistant to medication.


Last year in the UK, the number of cases rose by more than 5% to 9,153, according to
provisional figures from the HPA. More than a third of the cases were in London.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Survey on Alpacas

We have been asked to put the following letter and Survey on the blog. Ysella Wood is a Nottingham University student and her letter is self-explanatory. It can be found here and in the useful links under "Alpaca Questionnaire"

She had asked the B.A.S. if they would kindly email her survey to all its members. She also told B.A S. that she would give them the results of the survey. B.A.S. declined to send it out stating:

Dear Ysella Wood

Further to your request of 21st July for the BAS to circulate your 'research questionnaire'. My apologies for the prolonged delay. Your request was discussed at the board meeting held this week. The board were of the opinion that they had sent out rather a lot of 'research questionnaires'recently and did not wish to over burden the membership with another at this time.

I regret therefore that we are not able to circulate this for you.


One would think the B.A.S. would welcome this study which is being carried out independently at no cost to the B.A.S and surely the B.A.S would benefit to find out how the members feel. This would have taken no time at all to send out by email to the members - same time as it takes to send out emails about shows.

Ysella had to resort to posting her survey just to members in the South West but we can appreciate this is very costly and her student budget couldn't stretch to posting her survey to the entire country.

We are glad to help and we urge everyone to download the survey and either email or post it back to Ysella. The summary of her findings will be posted on this blog in the future.

We wish you luck Ysella and sorry the B.A.S. Board didn't help.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PRESS RELEASE Let's hope England follow suit

A copy of the consultation paper can be found here.


Welsh Assembly Government consults on TB in camelids, goats and deer

As part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Bovine TB Eradication programme, the Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has launched a consultation on a draft legislative order to control TB in camelids, goats and deer.
For the purposes of the draft legislation, camelids are defined as alpacas, guanacos, llamas and vicunas.
Elin Jones said:
“Camelids, goats and deer as well as cattle and badgers are susceptible to catching and spreading TB. Our aim is to eradicate Bovine TB from Wales and we are committed to tackling all sources of infection, in both domesticated animals and wildlife, to do that.
“This is why we have developed a strategy for dealing with camelids, goats and deer.
”We have taken decisive action to tackle the disease in cattle, through increased testing, stricter controls on cattle movements, tightening up of policies and a zero tolerance approach to enforcement and promoting better biosecurity.
“This draft order aims to put the prevention and management of incidents of Bovine TB in camelids, goats and deer on a similar footing to the arrangements already in place for cattle. It would introduce controls to prevent the spread of disease and for compensation when these animals are slaughtered due to Bovine TB.
“However, following a consultation in 2008 we concluded that there was no need to introduce a regular Bovine TB testing regime or a requirement for TB Pre-Movement Testing for camelids, goats or deer.”
The Welsh Assembly Government introduced legislation in 2008 that created specific powers for inspectors to enter land and to obtain a warrant for the purposes of testing non-bovine animals for disease.
In 2009 a Welsh Assembly Government consultation on camelids resulted in a much greater understanding of the issues TB raises for camelid keepers. Since then Welsh Assembly Government officials have also engaged with stakeholders in the goat and deer industry in Wales in order to come up with proposals that it is hoped will be welcomed as a positive step forward in tackling the disease in these animals.
The Minister added:
“Bovine TB advances quickly in infected camelids. They show very little in the way of physical signs before it reaches an advanced stage and it causes a painful death. This is distressing for owners and for the animal. Bovine TB is a horrible disease, which is why we are committed to eradicating it from Wales.”
The consultation on the draft order runs for 12 weeks. The consultation document and information on how to respond is available on the Welsh Assembly Government website at www.wales.gov.uk/bovinetb

For more information, please call 0800 528 3300
Notes
For further information about the Bovine TB eradication programme, including the Bovine TB Eradication Programme Annual Report 2009 – 2010, visit the Welsh Assembly Government website: www.wales.gov.uk/bovinetb

Friday, 20 August 2010

TB Update August 2010

Here is the latest update on TB from Dianne Summers.

Firstly it would be a total injustice if I didn’t start this update with a huge thank you to Mike Birch who sadly resigned from the BAS Board in early August... To say Mike Birch was pro active on the TB front would be an understatement and we have so much to thank him for. I cannot tell you the number of hours Mike dedicated to the issue and he certainly was the driving force behind the TB Awareness meetings and keeping the members informed in his Chairman’s reports in the BAS magazine. He kept in constant contact with me and was always at the end of the phone if we needed help. He always wanted to be kept up to date on the data we gather from the Support group and prior to every Board meeting he asked me for an update on the current losses number of herds under restriction etc– which I always gave him. Mike and I worked closely together on the TB issue and that contact certainly helped me because believe it or not although I run the support group I too need support from time to time and he always managed to make me smile on days when things got very tough. So Mike a huge thank you from me and the TB Support Group and we wish you well. You will be missed. I hope whoever takes your place will follow your example of what a Chair should be and the Board continue to be pro-active on the Tb front for all our sakes.

Current Figures

According to DEFRA as of August 15th 2010 there are now currently approximately 35 herds under Tb movement restrictions and several others awaiting confirmation by culture. This figure as you know can change on a weekly basis as new herds come under restriction and others come out of restriction. In July 2009 only 11 herds were under restriction so in one year the figure has trebled. If this pattern continues potentially 100 herds could be under restriction this time next year.

In the TB Support Group we have a further 14 herds (myself included) that have been under restriction and are now clear. Therefore a minimum of 49 herds have been affected. Sadly as one of my group come out of restriction another comes on. Those in touch with the TB Support group have suffered 155 losses between 1st Jan 2010 and 1st August 2010 so our small group has already exceeded the number of losses for last year. Please understand not all herds under restriction are in touch with the support group - therefore I have no idea of the total losses from the other herds.

The problem isn’t going away nor is it getting better. Herds have been affected not only by direct local wildlife but by way of purchase or agisted mating and sadly lots of alpacas on long term agistment have fallen to TB. When Tb is confirmed in a herd – every animal on that farm at the time no matter who owns it or whether it is on a short term stay is put under restriction and will be included in the testing process. Think long and hard before you send your animals away for any reason-even short term.

If you are misfortunate to come down to Tb you must notify all your forward and back contacts as soon as you know you have Tb in your herd. You must be honest with Animal Health when they contact you and they ask for your movement records. Sadly some breeders are not doing this and Animal Health are finding breakdowns linked by strain type to herds where Tb was confirmed and the breeder hadn’t told Animal health nor the contacts. This is unacceptable. Defra and Animal health hands are tied – they have no legal powers to insist on movement records they are totally reliant on the honesty of the herd owners. Failure to not comply with Animal Health is a breach of the BAS Code of Conduct section 5 which clearly states. “Owners should fully co-operate with Animal Health and facilitate testing and provide accurate movement records when requested”.


The problem is:

In the case of at least one commercial herd with a serious bTB problem, by not giving their full movement records to Animal Health and also not contacting their clients who had purchased from them or had agisted matings etc., Animal Health wasn’t able to contact these people and offer testing. The herds also remained totally unaware that they had brought TB into their herds until they suffered their first loss, and were therefore unable to take the necessary measures on their own farms to minimise the spread. These people then sadly end up in the TB Support Group. There are likely to be others who have yet to find they have purchased the problem with their new herd, purchase or matings.

Owing to the scale of this, it is inevitable that this is going to come out in the public domain and sadly as always the decent honest and responsible herds that are under restriction are going to be tarred with the same brush as those that are not. The BAS board have been notified of this last weekend, and are aware it is happening and who is doing it. If you are concerned please contact the Directors of B.A.S. There email addresses and phone numbers are on the BAS website.

I am pleased to say that the breeder in question is NOT a member of the TB Support Group.

Lastly we are developing a website (http://www.alpacatb.com) dedicated to Tb in Camelids which hopefully will be up and running soon. The site will feature everything you need to know on the subject and will become a one stop shop so to speak for up to date Tb information and advice.

If you are under restriction please contact either myself Dianne Summers on summersdianne@yahoo.com 01209 822422 or Dr Gina Bromage on ginabromage@googlemail.com your name or County will never be released not even to the other members of the Support Group without your permission.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Treatment when skin testing

Dianne Summers of the Camelid TB Support group has asked us to post this article.

When I did my very first skin test on my herd my AHO and my vet told me not to use any treamtent on my herd between the skin test and reading date but it appears from the communication with my fellow members of the Tb Support group that not everyone is made aware of this.

Anyway, below are 2 statements from leading industry specialists experienced in Tb testing, one of them is a retired DEFRA DVM..

1. The tuberculin test takes 72 hours to work. During that time it is inadvisable to treat the animal with anything that could affect the test - this applies to any species being tested, because:
Substances that reduce inflammation may cause a positive reaction to be missed (the test produces an inflammatory response, which is then measured).
Substances that produce inflammation at the injection sites could cause a false positive reaction - and many anthelmintics etc are injected near these.
There is also the possibility that other drugs might interfere and enhance or reduce the reaction.

This applies to all species where the test is used, including goats.

It is important that we get the correct result. With camelids it is particularly important not to miss positives as many of the animals that are positive to the test are badly infected - as you know.


2. I have no first hand information as to whether goat owners were specifically told not to treat goats in between injection of PPD and reading the test. However, as a general rule we would be under instruction to avoid treatment during that time unless it was an emergency. Corticosteroids, as being immunosuppressant, would be top of the list to avoid, but NSAIDs should have no immunosuppressive effect. However, if an animal had had a
serious illness "During" testing welfare considerations would demand that treatment took place. It would then be up for discussion as to what the degree of risk was that treatment might have interfered with the test, and therefore whether any retesting was appropriate under the individual circumstances.


So there you have it - please make sure you ask your vet or AHO if you need to treat during the test - as it may affect your reading. I was told I wasn't allowed to do any treatment. I was also told to ask my vet if I needed to do any treatment 2 weeks prior to my test date as this could also affect the test. It is better to be safe than sorry. The last thing we need is a false reading. We may get too many false negatives as it is.

I hope you found this useful.

Dianne Summers
summersidanne@yahoo.com
01209 822422

Monday, 16 August 2010

Current TB testing intervals for cattle

DEFRA has released the latest map of the parish testing intervals for TB in cattle. You can download it here.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Side effects following the skin test

Dianne Summers of the TB Support Group has asked us to post the following video and message.

video



I urge everyone to watch the attached video that is involved in TB Skin testing on camelids.

If you know of anyone who isn’t in the TB Support Group who is going through herd testing or considering having the skin test done privately please forward them this document and video

If you know of any vets who are involved with TB testing in camelids please forward it to them.

I have also sent it to B.A.S. ,B.C.L., B.L.S. and B.V.C.S. and hope they put it on their respective websites.

In March this year I added a question on the monthly data forms asking if any of the group had alpacas or llamas which suffered any side effects following the skin test. I was astonished with the response and at how many had witnessed the same experience that I had. .

I have just received the attached video sent to us by a member of the group that shows the dramatic reaction of one alpaca following her skin test jabs in Dec 09.
Please note when you watch the video the owner means the skin test jab when he states injection.

1. From those in touch with the Camelid TB Support Group we have 22 alpacas which suffered this same dramatic reaction. Remember not all herds under restriction are in touch with us so I strongly believe there may be many more that have experienced this.

2. Prior to the skin test jab ALL 22 had no outward signs or symptoms

3. Within hours of the test 22 suffered this dramatic reaction – not all were necessarily immediately after but all of them were the same day as the test.

4. From this 22 – 4 died or were euthanized before the skin test was read (within 72 hours)
The remaining 18 including the alpaca in the video appeared to fully recover the next day.
These remaining 18 then went on to either fail a blood test – or later were euthanized
due to showing clinical signs or died.

5. All 22 had Tb lesions on Post mortem examination only 3 of the 22 failed the skin test.
Therefore in these cases this side effect is more accurate than the skin test result itself. It is therefore extremely important.

6. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion and think the skin test jab has given these animals Tb, this is not the case. ALL these alpacas were found on post mortem to have advanced Tb lesions and for some unknown reason had experienced this dramatic reaction. Many leading vets have already suggested anaphylactic shock.

7. Those owners that carried out the Chembio Rapid Stat Pak test or Gamma test within 10 – 30 days following the skin test - the blood tests picked up ALL the animals that had this dramatic reaction. Owners who didn’t have blood test done had to endure either the alpaca dying or developing severe clinical signs which required euthanasia on welfare grounds..

Therefore, please monitor your herd very closely following the skin test procedure. If you hadn’t checked them until the next day you could have easily missed the fact that one or more of your herd had suffered this side effect because most of them appear to have fully recovered the next day.

If you experience this in your herd I strongly recommend you remove them from the rest of the group together with a companion to an isolation paddock or into your watch group with no nose to nose contact with your remaining herd or neighbouring livestock and do not return to your herd.

I urge all Vets or AHos who are conducting TB skin testing in camelids to make the owners aware of this side effect and strongly advise the owner to monitor the herd very closely.

I had one alpaca have this side effect on my first skin test in Jan 2009 and again on the next skin test 90 days later – and both times fully recovered by the next day. He then failed the Chembio Rapid following the second round of skin tests. Both my vet and AHO were unaware of any side effects following the skin test and they both thought it must be stress. At the time having only lost one alpaca before this to TB I didn’t make any connection nor was I aware of any other alpaca owner who had experienced this.

If I had received this email back in January 2009 not only would I have understood why my alpaca had this reaction but I would have certainly adopted a totally different approach. I hope this helps you do the same. It’s a classic example of “If I knew then what I know now”

Once again – the gathering of data such as this is vital and it is helping others make important decisions and we have to thank the people in the Tb Support group who religiously send in their monthly data to us – and to the member of the group who sent us this video.

For those reading this and not in touch with the Tb Support Group who have had camelids or their clients camelids with the same experience or perhaps other side effects please contact either myself or Dr Gina Bromage and let us know. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence. We also welcome input and comments from industry professionals.

We are hoping to have this ‘Side Effect’ data written up as a paper for wider circulation in the veterinary press.

Dianne Summers summersdianne@yahoo.com 01209 822422
Gina Bromage MA, Vet MB, DVM, MRCVS ginabromage@googlemail.com
Camelid TB Support Group

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Diagnostic Tests Available at VLA

Listed here are a list of common diseases that alpacas can contract, including bTB. It also shows the importance of having all deaths Post Mortemed, including aborted cria.

All tests can be arranged via your own vet.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

TB in Alpacas via Mating

Today we have added an article written by Finn Twomey to the useful links at the side.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Mating/Buying Game – Playing it Safe

Dianne Summers who runs the Camelid TB Support Group together with British Veterinary Camelid Society vet Dr Gina Bromage give some practical advice on how to mate and buy safely. .

We all know we have to change the way we do things. At the end of May 2010 DEFRA confirm there are currently 30 camelid herds under restriction to TB and DEFRA also confirm that from the 8 new breakdowns in the first 5 months of 2010 3 of the 8 was from purchase or movement. A further 14 herds in contact with the TB Support Group have come out of restriction so we know a minimum of 44 herds have been affected. Remember not all herds with TB are in touch with the TB Support group.

The skin test fails to detect the vast majority of TB infected camelids - so it goes without saying the risk of TB is very much on all of our minds but it isn’t only TB we need to consider- its any disease that can be contracted by coming into contact with other alpacas/llamas e.g. Bvd, mange, mites, gastro intestinal parasites in particular E-Mac – diseases that can kill - so we need to change the way we do things – sharpish and one of those is mating – the other is buying. . But how do we go about mating safely? And which method is the lowest risk and which poses the highest risk? The same advice can be applied to buying.

1. The lowest risk is obviously owning your own stud male but not everyone has their own stud male/s nor wants to...

2. The next level of risk is mobile or drive-by mating. Why? – simply because the contact is one on one and minimal. Besides, you do have the added benefit of knowing your female has been mated to the stud you have paid for and YOU can control the bio security measures - so in my opinion this is a much lesser risk than the third option. To reduce the risk even further select a breeder who doesn’t offer on farm agistment mating.

3. Agisted mating. This has to be the highest risk and it has been documented by the VLA that alpacas have contracted TB whilst away on agisted mating. In my opinion it isn’t worth the risk

To send your females away for months on end where they are often placed in a field with dozens of other females from all over the country must stop. We have all done this in the past – I have only ever sent one female away for mating and when I went to visit her she was in a field with dozens of other females many of them had obvious signs of mites/mange. I decided then never to send my females away again and that was before I knew about TB/BVD/EMac etc etc. You have no idea what diseases the other females carry and you have no idea if these fellow females are TB/Disease free. Let’s not forget the stress this also causes to your females and we all know the effects of stress on the immune system. The risk works both ways.

Having a vet health check or fecal sample is strongly recommended but these do not cover TB. However faecal samples are very important for many other diseases and must be carried out both before and after movements.

Unless the breeder can provide your females with their own clean bio secure paddock for the entire stay with no nose to nose contact with any other alpacas or neighbouring livestock and they abide by the BAS Code of conduct (If BAS members) and maintain high bio security standards then I strongly suggest you do not send your females away on agistment.. DEFRA has lots of excellent advice and leaflets on its website for farm bio security.

Many reputable breeders with quality stud services available who used to show have now stopped attending shows and unnecessary movements until a reliable ante mortem test is available. Check out breeder’s websites – if it says alpacas rarely get ill and they don’t get many diseases – then I suggest you don’t do business with them because they are knowingly giving incorrect advice. Alpacas get diseases similar to all other livestock. Any honest breeder would state that. Ask them what bio security measures they have in place – ask them about TB and other diseases. If they say TB isn’t a problem – I suggest you run for the hills and find a breeder who says it is. What you want to hear is a breeder say Yes TB is a problem and here are the measures I have taken to reduce the risk to my herd. If they proudly show off ribbons they have won this year then they are not taking the TB issue seriously enough. Very little point in having state of the art bio security then trundling off at every opportunity to enter shows /fetes and fun days – where they have the potential to come in direct contact with an alpaca who may have TB or come in contact with a herd at a show who has just come out of restriction having only used the skin test. Not all herds that come out of restriction are following our advice to not sell show or offer mating services for at least a year after coming out of restriction.

Breeders asking for the females to have a skin test before arriving or declaring all their stud males have had a skin test does not mean the alpaca or llama is Tb free.. Anyone who declares a camelid is TB free because it has had a skin test is giving false information. . There is NO current private test available that can declare an alpaca or llama is TB Free. This is why we need a reliable ante mortem test so we can all trade with confidence.
.
Blood tests are currently only available to herds under restriction and are optional. The breeder can refuse to blood test!!!!!! I suggest you view the silent killer post on the www.bovinetb.blogspot.com
.
Lastly whatever option you chose remember to get the stud provider/breeder to give you their completed self declaration form – a sample of which can be downloaded from the BAS website under Welfare/Health and Diseases (you don’t have to be a BAS member) and also on the www.tbinalpacas.blogspot.com - both parties must complete it when attending shows – agistment or mating. Ask to see their herd/health movement book - better still consider getting a legal contract drawn up, so that all documents and statements are part of your agreement to pay..

Play it safe – do your homework – ask the right questions - don’t put your animals at unnecessary risk, an outbreak of any disease, let alone TB, will give you plenty of time to wish you had...

I want you to remain in my TB Update Group (those that want to learn about TB) I don’t want you to ever be in the TB Support group (Those in a Tb Breakdown and under restriction)

Dianne Summers
Camelid TB Support Group
12th July 2010

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Silent Killer

As a follow up to the last post of the same title please visit the bovine tb blog posting and read the interesting comments particularly those of the vet.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Badgerproof Fencing

Rob has given us permission to post this for those who do not get the BAS magazine.

Badger-Proof Fencing
By Rob Rawlins at Wellground Alpaca Stud in Wiltshire.

It was the British Alpaca Society that provided me with the inspiration for this latest farm improvement project. Like most alpaca breeders, there are a lot of improvements that I wanted to do on our alpaca farm. However, having attended the first of the BAS TB Awareness meetings held at Bristol in January 2010, only one project was really needed on our farm. Having listened to an excellent presentation, I was determined to do everything I could to prevent our alpacas from contracting bovine tuberculosis.

We had already decided to operate our alpaca farm as a ‘closed herd’ in the foreseeable future, a decision that has proved to be very fruitful as awareness of bTB was rising in the industry. We had decided not to show our alpacas at halter shows in 2010, and not to travel our herdsires for mobile matings. All these decisions would help prevent the herd contracting bTB from alpaca to alpaca contact. We have a strict biosecurity regime in place involving disinfectant matting, footwear baths and visitor precautions.

However, we needed to ensure that we did not infect the herd from the wildlife vector. This is a far more complicated task. On my return from the BAS awareness meeting, I started to research badger-proof fencing for our farm. There appeared to be two solutions, firstly electric fencing. This needed to be specialised for the purpose, although this could be installed on our farm, the layout would make such a system high maintenance due to our hedgerows causing short-circuit issues close to the ground during the hedge growing season. The electric fencing solution would work for some breeders, but we wanted something more permanent, something low maintenance and long lasting. We decided to install permanent specifically manufactured badger-proof netting.

I know that some people think that installing badger proof fencing is over the top. I know some people thought it was a reaction of panic to a situation that didn’t call for such radical action. Not so actually, we were probably sitting on a time bomb of bTB. We have local badger setts. The badgers were coming onto our land and walking amongst our alpacas every night. They would use our paddocks as latrines and would dig up areas each night looking for worms under the alpaca dung piles. But this was nothing new, they had been doing this every night for the last 10 years we have been breeding alpacas on our land. Our local badgers were clean of bTB, they had to be or surely we would have contracted the disease long ago.

The issue that made us realise our worrying position, was finding out that less than 10 miles away a cattle herd had gone down with bTB, contracted from a local badger sett. Bovine TB was getting closer to home in the wildlife vector and was starting to be a direct threat to our alpacas. It was time for some serious action.

We employed the services of an expert in this field, Antony Griffiths of AJG Fencing Contractors. Not only is Antony a fencing expert, his parents own Toad Hall Alpacas in Worcestershire. He had a sympathetic understanding of our position and how the threat should be approached in relation to alpacas. Antony is a great believer in quality fencing products. In his opinion only Tornado’s specific badger-proof fencing would be good enough to do the job properly. Tornado fencing is made in the UK; it is made of high tensile steel and very good quality. That’s what we decided to use. To complement this quality fencing material, we needed to address the access for wildlife at gateways to our land. New meshed galvanised gates were purchased and fitted above concrete thresholds. At more inaccessible points around our land rather than concreting, railway sleepers were dug under the gateways to prevent badgers from entering under the gates.

The fencing process involved using a mini-digger to dig a trench around our entire perimeter. The old post and rail fencing was removed and the new fencing was erected with the badger-proof netting travelling down into the trench. To get the most effective use if this netting, the wire needed to travel down 450mm below ground level and then turn out away from the land being protected for at least 200mm. Having installed the fencing this way, it left a finished fence height of 4ft. The trench was back filled covering the netting underground, leaving a tidy finished appearance. That was not good enough for us or Antony though. We are very aware that badgers are capable of climbing fencing. To finish the job effectively, on the outside of the fence at the top Antony fitted an electrified single run of wire, connected to a mains operated Electric Shepherd energiser. On the inside at the top of the fence was another non-electrified single run of wire to protect the alpacas from getting shocked by the outer wire.

We thought that our new fencing would be a secure solution. However we did not allow for the tenacity of the badger. Never underestimate the single minded approach they have of maintaining control of their patch. It took the badgers one night to get in to our land. Just one night!. The only weak spot in the fencing was at one of the stud paddock field shelters. Due to the layout of that part of the paddock, fencing behind the shelter was impossible. Antony had to fence up to each side of the shelter, rather than behind it. That night the badgers burrowed under the shelter and into our land. Although annoying, this was simply remedied by manually finishing the back of this shelter with badger-proof netting. This has now resulted in our farm being a badger free zone.

However, it’s not just badgers that are now kept out. Foxes also cannot enter our land. Twice during this last winter, we had dogs enter our land and one actually bit one of our herdsires, the other attacked one of our bantams. No dogs can gain access to our land any longer. In fact even rabbits cannot get in through the tiny holes in the netting. About three days after the installation process, we found a young rabbit had been fenced inside our land. He tried for days to get out of our fencing and back to his warren but he couldn’t get out.

Badger-proof fencing is not a cheap solution, we are fortunate that our land is not too large, it made the project achievable for us. The feeling of reassurance it gives cannot be measured. I know we cannot prevent avian TB or rodent TB entering our land. But we have been able to prevent the wildlife that can carry Bovine TB from entering our property. For us it was quite simply a no brainer.

Any alpaca breeders interested in this solution for eradicating badgers from their land are very welcome to visit our farm and see how this project has been completed. Contact Rob or Les at Wellground Alpaca Stud on 01380 830431.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

TB Update in BAS mag

You may not all receive the BAS magazine so here is the article that Dianne Summers had published.

TB Update – A growing problem

Prior to Jan 1st 2008 there were only 3 reported cases of TB in camelids in the British Isles and one in the Republic of Ireland.

When I myself came down to Tb in my herd in Sept 08 there was virtually no information available anywhere on the subject of Tb in camelids.

In June 09 at a meeting organized by Bas – I met 5 other Bas members
Also under restriction to tB. It was at this point I formed the tb Support Group. So in June last year the tb Support group consisted of just 6 people – one year later it now has 28. 18 of which are currently under restriction and 10 been through testing and now clear.

The support group gathers data on loses - skin test results – blood tests results – side effects – watch group etc and this data has helped others make decisions in how they manage their herds and deal with tb but also the data has made members aware of the situation and how serious it is.

I am pleased that my name and the TB Support Group is now added onto the AH/DEFRA letter of consent to test. The letter of consent is the document given to new herds that have the misfortune to come down to TB. A document they must sign when they agree to test. I am thankful to AH/DEFRA for this and proves not only that we are working together but also they recognize the TB Support Group as invaluable help for fellow camelid sufferers. The Support group has a direct line of communication with DEFRA/AH HQ and any problems that arise can be dealt with swiftly and this is a line of communication we appreciate.


Ricardo de La Rua-Domenech of the bovine tuberculosis programme from DEFRA kindly informed me that as of the end of May 2010 there are approx 30 alpaca herds currently under restriction and that we have had 8 new breakdowns so far in 2010. 3 of the 8 new breakdowns in 2010 have be linked epidemiology through alpaca movements or purchase.


THE Following DATA IS FROM 18 HERDS THAT ARE currently under restriction and IN CONTACT WITH THE TB SUPPORT GROUP. I have no data on the other 12 currently under restriction.


Up to Dec 31st 2009 those in contact with the TB support group lost 144 alpacas/llamas confirmed TB. This works out roughly 12 a month. From that 144 we had 12 skin test positives 7 of which were from one herd.

In the first 4 months of 2010 from 1st Jan - 30th April 2010 members in contact with the TB support group have lost:

94 alpacas.
9 of which were skin test positives
48 were Rapid/Gamma blood test positives All of which passed the skin test.
37 sudden death or euthanized due to clinical signs

94 losses in 4 months = 23.5 per month so double the quarterly ratio of last year.

Again this is only from data provided from herds in contact with the TB support group.

We all know the skin test isn't removing infected animals from the herds with the exception of a low number of skin test positives but the blood tests are. This is why the gamma interferon validation project on Tb free areas is vital and we have now reached our target of 300 required and we have a lot to thank BAS Mike Birch for his constant hard work and the herds who have kindly offered up their alpacas for testing - the alpaca industry have an awful lot to thank you both for. Once/If validated we may be on our way to a reliable ante mortem test but this of course depends on the findings from the trials. Lets all keep our fingers crossed. It is working well on herds with breakdowns but it needs to work well on those not in a breakdown. We all know specificity v sensitivity and the importance of both.

DATA ON BLOOD TESTS
From Nov 2009 - March 31st the Gamma Interferon blood test has been used on 4 herds in the TB Support Group and has picked up 50 TB infected alpacas from 155 alpacas tested in just 4 months on 4 herds. All these passed the skin test.

3 other herds in the TB support group have had both the rapid and gamma blood tests done on their entire herds in May so their data and results are not included in this update. However the Gamma is picking up far more infected alpacas than the rapid.

We all have to thank the kind members of the TB Support Group who have submitted their data to me. Thanks to them we have this data and thanks to them this data has driven the gamma validation project along.

We need to be able to come out of restriction and trade with confidence – we cannot do that on the skin test alone – the data in this letter proves that.


We all need to be responsible – we all need to do our homework. We all need to take this issue seriously.
The new bAs Code of conduct and bio security guidelines and self declaration forms need to be used. They are there to protect you.
All are available on the bAs website.

Lastly if you are not in the Tb Support group then please contact us – we need to work together. Don’t go through it alone. The Support group not only provides emotional support but valuable information which you will need. We also need your data.

To keep up to date with the current Tb Situation I highly recommend you regularly look on the following blogs.
www.tbinalpacas.blogspot.com and www.bovinetb.blogspot.com

Dianne Summers Camelid TB Support Group summersdianne@yahoo.com 01209 822422

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Silent Killer

We have been sent 2 videos by one of the members of the Camelid TB Support Group. We have permission to use them.

To view the videos you should go to the bovine tb blog

Here is what the owner would like to say.

The purpose of this video is not to break your heart (and it will) but to show you how perfectly healthy an alpaca can look and yet be riddled with TB having PASSED a skin test.

The first clip was taken an hour before he was put down. He was in his pen - alone waiting to be culled. He wasn't showing ANY signs of ANY illness let alone TB. He had PASSED the skin test TWICE but FAILED the blood test. No outward signs at all.

This wee alpaca was culled one hour after the footage was taken.

This wee alpaca had TB lesions throughout his entire organs.

Sadly those of us that are in the TB Support group - who have culled reactors to the blood tests - this is sadly an all too familiar sight but for others - it should open your eyes to the silent killer known as TB.

I hope you may now all see why I continually state that you cannot rely on the skin test alone to detect TB infected alpacas and the reason why we cannot trade with any confidence if we come out of restriction having only used the skin test and supports both my advice and that of BVCS vet Gina Bromage to not consider selling - showing - moving alpacas around for a minimum of one year maybe 2 - maybe longer - on the back of a negative skin test.

I get phone calls constantly from owners and potential owners of alpacas stating that they have been told that a negative skin test is a guarantee that the alpaca or llama is TB free. I wish that was the case. As the video clip clearly shows - it isn't.

Does this alpaca look to you as if he is dying or is ill? Does he look like he has TB. You decide.

Remember when you read my updates on numbers culled because of blood tests - all blood test reactors have PASSED the skin test. Again this supports the importance of the blood tests and the current research into the gamma interferon validation project and the hope of a reliable ante-mortem test.

I thank the kind member of the TB Support Group who sent me these clips. The reason is simple - it is to educate others.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Minimising Disease Transmission During Shearing

Helen at Alpaca Power has asked us to pass on this information she has put together which should be considered alongside the infomation from Gina Bromage.

Shearing is not something most of look forward to but is it necessary and we owe it to our alpacas to do it well. Spread of disease should be on every owners mind and this includes between alpacas on the same holding. Below is a list of simple and effective guidelines which can be adopted to prevent the passing on of diseases from outside and within your herd.

Do not be afraid to ask your shearer to provide clean and disinfected equipment.

Before you start

It is strongly recommended that all alpacas due to be shorn are kept indoors overnight in a well ventilated barn/shelter with hay and water, even if there is no chance of them getting wet. Alpacas will eliminate urine and faeces overnight ensuring:

shearing mats stay dry;
there is much less discomfort (and therefore stress) for the alpacas;
much less contamination of fleeces;
minimises risk of spread of disease via urine;
ensures a much more pleasant working environment for all

Agree with the shearer to disinfect all ropes, mats and equipment on arrival. A responsible shearer will have no problem with this. Even better would be to have your own mats and ropes.

Any animals within the herd who are underweight, have active skin lesions or get very stressed or give cause for concern should be isolated and sheared last.

If shearing other herds on your holding then it is important for your biosecurity to shear all your own alpacas first then clean and disinfect all equipment before and after any visiting herds. All waste should be incinerated afterwards.

Each shearing area should have its own supplies; disinfectant, brush, paper towel, bin bags etc.

During shearing

Any spillages (urine, gastric contents, faeces, blood) should be cleaned up with disposable paper towel immediately and put into a bin. Hands should be washed with soap and water before the next animal in handled.

Always wash hands between handling mouths to examine teeth.

After shearing

Pressure wash down concrete and then disinfect or clean and rest grass areas.
Offer to wash your shearer and clean and disinfect his equipment before it goes back into his car.

All areas should be cleaned with detergent first and then disinfected. It is very important to use correct concentrations and contact times in order for the products to work effectively.

Stress busting recommendations for your alpacas

Offer a hay net while they wait.
Let them watch what is happening.
Be organised and have the animal on the ground for the least amount of time.
Don’t leave an animal unattended while it is tied out.
Handle the animals calmly and respectfully and keep noise to a minimum.
Keep animals in their small groups until the last one is shorn and then let them out together.
Cria should always stay within sight of the dam.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Shearing Bio-security

Gina Bromage has asked us to pass on this document regarding bio-security measures during shearing.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Side effects of the skin test?

Dianne Summers of the TB Support Group has sent us the following letter:

'REACTIONS' FOLLOWING THE SKIN TESTING OF ALPACAS.

Members of the Alpaca TB support group who have kindly forwarded details of their tests, losses and post mortem results to me for filing, have also mentioned some extreme reactions in their animals, following the skin test jabs.

One of my own animals, (Cloud) also had this reaction. In Cloud’s case, it appeared within an hour of the test, (after my AHO had left) and left him gasping for breath, with legs extended, distressed and with an increased heartbeat. Although his ‘reaction’ had gone within a couple of days, Cloud was subsequently found to have generalised TB at postmortem.

Within our small support group of 28 alpaca owners, 22 animals have suffered a similar reaction. In three cases, the animals have died before the reading of the test. Others have been euthanased on welfare grounds. Some appeared to recover, but a positive skin test and/or blood test has meant they have been culled and found to have clinical TB at postmortem, some in several organs of their bodies.

A retired veterinary scientist, who attended an Alpaca TB Awareness Roadshow and is on my mailing list for updates of our support group, has expressed interest in this 'side effects' data which the group have provided. Although he has been worked for almost 40 years with bTB in cattle (and badgers), the extreme reaction to the skin test which some of our alpacas have had, is something he has not experienced before.

He is keen to document it and offer his findings to the veterinary / scientific press. To do this he needs to speak directly to the owners (or their vets) of animals in which this reaction has been seen. In papers of this sort, owner's anonymity is completely protected, with the animal in question given a label 'a' or 'b', or numbered.

It is not lumps or bumps he is looking for. It is this violent (and sometimes fatal) whole body type reaction to the skin test, which is of interest. This may happen within the first minutes (or hours) of the jab and in my case (Cloud) could not have been passed off as ‘stress’. The interest of the veterinary professionals who have requested information from owners, is driven by concern for the welfare of our alpacas. As this reaction is not routinely seen in cattle, it is possible that it is a violently ‘positive’ reaction of alpacas who may have clinical TB (as the majority of this 'side effect' group have proved to have) when given the screening test of a bTB ppd antigen jab.

If any alpaca owner has experienced this ‘side effect’ of the skin test on any of their animals, and would be prepared to contribute this experience to the author of the proposed veterinary paper, could they please contact me on the numbers below.

Dianne Summers
Camelid TB Support Group
01209 822422
07949511316
summersdianne@yahoo.com

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Regional Welfare Reps

In answer to the post by alpaca vet and in answer to some of the comments to that post we have received this copy from A Regional Group Welfare Rep which shows that BAS Secretary, Clare Waring sent the latest TB Update to all the Regional Welfare Reps on 13th May 2010 and you will see the names are listed. Did your Welfare Rep pass this information on to you – if not ask them why?
Welfare Reps should pass vital information on, that is the whole purpose of the National Committees. They are not there to censor what information their members receive.


--- On Thu, 13/5/10, Claire Waring wrote:

From: Claire Waring
Subject: FW: TB Update As of 1st May 2010
To: "BAS Brian Raine" , "BAS Carole Christian "
, "BAS Debbie Forsyth" , "BAS
Dianne Summers " , "BAS Felicia Sanders "
, "BAS Graham Reed" , "BAS
Jeremy Holland " , "BAS Karen Oglesby"
, "BAS Lesley Howard" , "BAS Liz Butler" , "BAS Liz Taylor", "BAS Lorna Renshaw" , "BAS Mary Tollit" , "BAS Mike Birch" , "BAS Nick Weber " ,"BAS Nicki Jones" , "BAS Philip O'Conor"
, "BAS Richard Beale " ,
"BAS Rob Bettinson" , "BAS Sandra Scott"
, "BAS Shirley Bettinson" , "BAS Stuart Drysdale" , "BAS Vicki Agar" , "BAS Yvonne Wilkinson"
Date: Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 20:54

Dear Welfare representatives

Please find attached the latest TB situation report from Di Summers.

Kind regards

Claire


-----Original Message-----
From: Dianne Summers [mailto:summersdianne@yahoo.com]

Sent: 11 May 2010 20:23
To: Dianne Summers
Subject: TB Update As of 1st May 2010

Dear TB Support Group and TB Update Group and B.A.S.
B.C.L.

PLEASE NOTE THIS DATA IS FROM 28 HERDS THAT ARE IN CONTACT WITH THE TB
SUPPORT GROUP. 18 OF WHICH ARE CURRENTLY UNDER RESTRICTION AND A FURTHER 10 NOW OUT OF RESTRICTION.

THERE ARE OTHER HERDS UNDER RESTRICTION THAT ARE NOT IN TOUCH WITH THE TB SUPPORT GROUP. I THEREFORE HAVE NO DATA ON THOSE.

Firstly, I am pleased to announce that my name and the TB Support Group is now added onto the AH/DEFRA letter of consent to test. The letter of consent is the document given to new herds that have the misfortune to come down to TB. A document they must sign when they agree to test. I am thankful to AH/DEFRA for this and proves not only that we are working together but also they recognise the TB Support Group as invaluable help for fellow camelid sufferers. This also puts paid to those that have classed the work I do as being scare mongering and hysteria. DEFRA/AH would hardly contemplate putting my name on such an important document if that was the case.

Up to Dec 31st 2009 those in contact with the TB support group lost 144 alpacas/llamas confirmed TB. This works out roughly 12 a month. From that 144 we had 12 skin test positives 7 of which were from one herd.

In the first 4 months of 2010 From 1st Jan - 30th April 2010 members in contact with the TB support group have lost:

94 alpacas. 9 of which were skin test positives 48 were Rapid/Gamma blood test positives All of which passed the skin test. 37 sudden death or euthanized due to clinical signs

94 losses in 4 months = 23.5 per month so double the quarterly ratio of
last year.

From this 94 only 9 were skin test positives.

Again this is only from data provided from herds in contact with the TB
support group.

We all know the skin test isn't removing infected animals from the herds with the exception of a low number of skin test positives but the blood tests are. This is why the gamma interferon validation project on Tb free areas is vital and a very important update will follow shortly. Watch this space - but we have a lot to thank BAS Mike Birch for - for his constant hard work and the herds who have kindly offered up their alpacas for testing - the alpaca industry have an awful lot to thank you both for. Once/If validated we are well on our way to a reliable ante mortem test but this of course depends on the findings from the trials. Lets all keep our fingers crossed. It is working well on herds with breakdowns but it needs to work well on those not in a breakdown. We all know specificity v sensitivity and the importance of both.

DATA ON BLOOD TESTS

From Nov 2009 - March 31st the Gamma Interferon blood test has been used on 4 herds in the TB Support Group and has picked up 50 TB infected alpacas from 155 alpacas tested in just 4 months on 4 herds.

3 other herds in the TB support group have had both the rapid and gamma blood tests done on their entire herds in May so their data and results are not included in this update. However the Gamma is picking up far more infected animals than the rapid.

Lastly my heartfelt thanks go out to the kind members of the TB Support Group who have kindly submitted their data to me - not only on the numbers lost but also blood test results - side effects – watch group etc. Thanks to them we have this data and thanks to them this data has driven the gamma validation project along. So thanks to them we are hopefully on our way to a reliable ante mortem test.

I hope you found this information useful - please feel free to post this information on your websites or blogs.

Kindest regards

Dianne Summers
Camelid TB Support Group
01209 822422
07949511316

Friday, 28 May 2010

Breeders' Input Needed

We have been asked to post this message, please comment on how your regional group is keeping you informed.

Hi Bloggers,

When I give advice to clients about TB they inevitably ask me why they don't get regular information from BAS updating them on the TB situation. Why don't they? I thought that all of the regions had welfare representatives whose remit surely must include informing their members about any developments and the situation regarding animals lost to date. Why has BAS either not got or is not sharing this information?

Alpaca Vet

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Update - You Have TB in your herd - WHATS NEXT

As soon as you suffer your first loss to TB – your entire herd is at risk and there are immediate measures you can take to reduce the risk of spread amongst your own herd/neighbouring livestock. Having lost one there is a strong chance another of this group or your entire herd is infected. There is lots of information available from DEFRA on their website regarding protecting your herd from wildlife and I urge you to follow that advice - but the following is additional information and is camelid specific. Cattle do not tend to spit nor do they tend to carry open lesions whilst outwardly showing no symptoms- camelids, however, are a totally different story.

DO NOT WAIT FOR THE CULTURE TO CONFIRM TB WHICH CAN TAKE UP TO 12 WEEKS. ACT IMMEDIATELY.

1. Consider the group from which you suffered your first loss as potentially infected.

2. Do not move any of this group out nor move any of your other groups in with this group. Discontinue mating with your own stud males until you are out of restriction.

3. Ensure no nose to nose contact /spitting distance between your other groups/neighbouring livestock. If you cannot move this group to an isolation field you must install perimeter fencing/secondary fencing including gateways with at least a 10 foot gap. If you have a foot path running through your property install secondary fencing so no human contact is possible.

4. Foot dips must be used when entering and leaving your farm and paddocks. DEFRA Recommend FAM 30 along with others (which kills TB) available from most farming suppliers – not only as a foot dip but for disinfecting stables- equipment etc.

5. Use separate cleaning equipment for this field - never use it on other fields unless it has been disinfected. If you use a poo hoover scrub wheels down before entering other fields. Same applies to any tractors etc that have been in this field.

6. Clean water troughs daily make sure troughs are a minimum 3 feet off the ground or in reach of cria.

7. Use as many hay racks a possible to eliminate any fighting/spitting over hay.

8. No hand feeding. You will pass potentially infected saliva from one to the other let alone yourself.

9. Wear protective clothing and remove before handling any of your other groups.

10. Wear disposable gloves – protective clothing - face masks - when handling this group esp. if handling the face/mouth area. Remember this is a zoonosis – can pass to humans so therefore keep children away and minimise the contact. Cease holding any hands on courses if you are under restriction. Follow HSA and HPA guidelines.

11. Try to feed in individual buckets and do not let them go from bucket to bucket. If you cannot do this due to the size of the group allow plenty of feeding troughs and clean out after feeding and tip upside down.

12. Monitor your herd daily and often closely. If any of this group or your other groups show any signs/symptoms – REMOVE THEM from this group immediately along with a mate for company and seek vet advice. Do not return this animal to the group until you are certain this animal does not have TB or has recovered from illness. Often they show very subtle signs – get to know your herd. Monitor weight – breathing – feeding habits – lethargy – coughing – stiffness in getting up and cushing down – overall demeanour or any change in their normal behaviour.

13. Notify people if you have sold any of your herd to them or have had matings etc as AH/DEFRA may be in contact with them.

14. AH/DEFRA will visit you and ask for all your movement records so have them ready for your visit. They will discuss the procedures with you. Ask them for a copy of the current policy and procedures..

15. Also HPA (Health Protection Agency) will contact you to discuss the risks to you and your family/staff and they may arrange X Rays BCGs Skin test on those in contact with your herd if they feel it necessary.

16. Your first skin test will be carried out either straightaway or 90 days after your first loss. If TB was evident on PM it is strongly advisable that you request your first skin test is carried out as soon as possible rather than wait 90 days. Better to remove reactors as soon as possible. A lot can happen in 90 days. I am not aware of a single false positive on the skin test – however there are many false negatives.

17. You will need a small pen approx 4feet wide by 5 feet deep or a crush – if you make a crush – ensure there is space for the AH vet to be able to get to the armpit. If you can handle your animals the procedure is not too stressful on your herd and you can simply halter the animal and hold as you do when you carryout injections but if you can’t then you will need a crush for not only your own safety but that of your animals. You can ask your vet to sedate any you feel will be too difficult but you will have to pay for that. There are many homeopathy treatments that are very useful i.e. AAA/Valerian for stress – useful for not only your herd but for you.

18. Any reactors – you must isolate as it may take up to 10 days before AH can arrange for removal. Also those that fall into the “watch” category must also be isolated. “Watch” is simply those that have had a reaction but not met the current 2mm measurement for a positive or have had a severe side effect following the skin. You will be offered either euthanasia by injection or captive bolt. This will be carried out on farm.

19. The animal/s will be removed afterwards and taken to the VLA for PM also paid for by DEFRA.

20. If you do not cull your positives you will not be allowed to undergo any further testing – or receive compensation and will therefore be under restriction until that animal either dies or you cull.

21. Once you have culled your reactor/s or if you suffer any further losses in your herd the 90 day process begins all over again – so you have a test 90 days after your loss and then another test 90 days after that providing no further losses have occurred.

22. You may be offered alternative under trial blood tests – consider these carefully before agreeing as you will be required to cull ALL positives. Blood tests do pick out infected animals which the skin test is missing.

23. If your entire herd test negative – do not think your herd are in the clear. Negative skin test does not mean your animals do not have TB. Continue to monitor as above. Do not use the skin test as a marketing tool. A negative skin test does not mean your animal is Tb free

24. Tell your shearer or anyone who needs to handle your herd that you are under restriction. You are putting their health at risk if you fail to do so and ramifications of such actions should you not be honest may be severe. .

25. If/when you become clear and restrictions are removed it is highly recommended you do not sell/show/ move your herd anywhere for a minimum of 12 months, due to the inaccuracy of the skin test and the risk of infecting other herds/livestock especially if you have refused blood tests.. Continue to use all the previous bio security measures throughout the quarantine period.

26. Finally – DO NOT go through this on your own – contact Dianne Summers who not only has firsthand experience of TB in her own herd but also heads the Camelid TB Support group where fellow TB sufferers are in touch with each other and can share advice, symptoms and data and someone is always at the end of the phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The support is also emotional support which you may also need. Contact Dianne on 01209 822422 07949511316 or summersdianne@yahoo.com All data you provide will be treated strictly private and confidential and will not even be passed on to the other members of the TB support group unless you are happy to do so. The Support Group works closely with DEFRA and AH and if problems arise we can help.


See files attached
Defra TB in Camelids leaflet
Defra Approved Disinfectants
Possible Signs and symptoms of TB in your herd
HSE Advice
HPA Advice
PM Film Throat Lesions
DS
Updated 22.05.2010

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Important Advice from HSE and HPA

Dianne Summers of the TB Support Group has kindly sent us the following documents which have been sent to her from Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health Protection Agency (HPA).

The documents as a whole can be seen under “Useful Links” on the right hand side of this blog.

Please note although both documents refer mainly to cattle we need to be extra vigilant when dealing with TB in camelids. Cattle don’t tend to spit nor do cattle carry massive open TB lesions in their throats or lungs – see the case history files on this blog for more details and photographs, they are in the "Blog Archive" under April 2010. Therefore the risk to human health has to be far greater. TB is a zoonosis.



HSE Advice

Introduction

All farm animals naturally carry a range of diseases, some of which can also affect humans. These diseases are known as zoonoses, and if you work with animals your health may be at risk from them. Although some of these diseases (eg anthrax, brucellosis and rabies) are not common in Great Britain, good occupational hygiene practices will protect against them, as well as other more common zoonoses such as leptospirosis, orf or ringworm.

Diseases transmitted from animals to humans can also affect visitors to farms -especially children or the elderly, who are more vulnerable to infection. These illnesses include those resulting from infection with the organisms Escherichia coli O157 (E coli O157) and Cryptosporidium parvum.

If you open your farm to the public you should take special precautions to make sure that they are not made ill by zoonoses.

Brucellosis, anthrax, bovine tuberculosis and BSE are notifiable or reportable diseases and subject to animal health legislation. Suspected cases must be reported to the Divisional Veterinary Manager at the Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO).

Legal requirements


Zoonoses are caused by micro-organisms, which are subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 (as amended). COSHH requires employers and self-employed people to:


• assess the risks to health from work activities which involve a hazardous substance (eg a micro-organism);


• prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately control exposure to the hazardous substances;


• introduce and maintain control measures;


• inform, instruct and train employees about the risks and precautions to be taken;


• regularly review risk assessments and the effectiveness of control measures.

Safe working practices


Consider the following:

● avoid or minimise the use of equipment or tools likely to cause cuts, abrasions or puncture wounds, and use safe working practices and PPE where appropriate;

Presumably the above would include shearing equipment

Personal hygiene

Any work with animals inevitably involves contact with dung and urine, which contain disease-causing organisms. Personal hygiene is therefore vitally important. If you are an employer, provide washing facilities wherever staff or visitors work with animals (at least, clean running water and paper towels). Make sure that you and your staff:

• wash cuts and grazes immediately with soap and running water;
cover new and existing wounds with a waterproof dressing before beginning work -some organisms enter the body through open wounds. Consider whether you or your staff need first-aid training;

● wash hands and arms before eating, drinking or smoking after contacting animals, or working in areas with animal dung.

Bovine tuberculosis

Bovine TB is most commonly carried by cattle, badgers and deer, and can infect humans by inhalation or hand-to-mouth contact. People handling infected cattle are at risk, especially if they become contaminated with mucus from the respiratory tract (eg by holding the animalʼs nose) and then do not follow the basic rules of good personal hygiene.


Many people will have been immunised against TB in childhood (the ʻBCGʼ immunisation). This gives substantial but not complete protection. If you are in an area where infection in cattle is common, consider whether you should contact your doctor to check your immunisation status. Do not rely on the BCG immunisation to prevent infection -always follow good practice.

Below are extracts from the Health Protection Agency

How is bovine TB transmitted?


Transmission of M. bovis can occur between animals, from animals to humans and, more rarely, from humans to animals and between humans. It is also possible to contract M. bovis infection by inhaling the bacteria shed by infectious animals in respiratory and other secretions, or through contamination of unprotected cuts or abrasions in the skin while handling infected animals or their carcasses, although this is rare.


Reducing the risk of human M. bovis infection on farms


Working with livestock may involve close contact with latently infected animals or animals with active tuberculosis. Relevant regulations require farmers to adopt appropriate measures to minimise exposure of employees and farm visitors to infections that can be transmitted to humans from animals. These include awareness of possible risks from contaminated aerosols in areas frequented by farm workers.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to bovine TB bacteria on livestock farms you should:

• Wash hands thoroughly several times a day and always before eating, smoking and after finishing work for the day

• Wash skin wounds immediately with soap and running water and cover with a waterproof dressing

• Do not drink, eat or smoke in animal areas

• Where possible, do not handle reactor cattle or other suspect animals around the nose


We are sure that after the TB Awareness Meetings no responsible alpaca owner would encourage others to handle any animal it suspects of carrying TB and would also be aware that a negative skin test is no indicator that an animal is free from bTB.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Gamma Interferon Validation Project

Dianne Summers of the TB Support group has asked us to Post this
very important announcement.


It is with great pleasure I can announce we have reached the 300 alpacas from Tb Free Areas to start the validation project.

I have known this for about a week but I needed to get Mike Birch's approval to release the news.

So you see hard work and tenacity does pay off - Mike Birch and I have attended meetings - given data - worked closely with the VLA at Weybridge and thanks so much to Mike Birch for the hard work he has put into acquiring the 300 alpacas that are needed. We have an awful lot to thank him for. He is a superb BAS Chair and he has worked so hard on the TB issue with me for well over a year now. Who would have thought when we attended the Gamma Project meeting in March this year that just 2 months later we are on our way.

We have to give a huge heartfelt thanks to those kind alpaca owners who have come forward and contributed to the 300 - we cannot thank you enough. The camelid industry has so much to thank you for. Thanks doesn't seem to be a strong enough word to use - unsung hero's would be more fitting..

A huge thanks to Martin and Shelley at the VLA Weybridge for the work they have done on this project and to DEFRA/AH all of whom are involved.

Thanks to BAS and BCL for funding this project - I myself believe this is the most important project our industries have had to face and I am delighted our funds are being spent on this.

Thanks to Dr Gina Bromage for her hard work on the Tb Awareness meetings and for all her help and advice she has given the Tb Support Group - Gina has had to suffer constant emails from me since Sept 08.

Lastly we have to thank my members of the TB Support Group who agreed to use the gamma on their herds and therefore produce the data that has driven this project along. If no one had agreed to do the test in the first place we wouldn't be here now. It had to be trialed on herds under restriction first so we have to thank them for agreeing to use an unvalidated test in the hope it works but with the knowledge that IF it did then it would benefit the camelid industry in the future. They could have simply had 2 rounds of skin test gone clear but they didn't so these people should be thanked and appreciated. They are the reason we are at this point.

Lets hope this is validated we know the specificity v sensitivity and the
importance of both and lets hope and pray we could possibly be on the verge of a reliable ante mortem test. This is a huge step in the right direction.

To think back in Sept 08 when I was screaming from the roof tops that we need a reliable test - and for want of a better word the vile behaviour I had to endure and still do from certain members of the alpaca industry - even I didn't think it would ever happen. So hard work does pay off and I have dedicated about 4 hours a day every day - 7 days a week since Sept 08 on TB in Alpacas. In a strange way I have to thank those who have vilified me and made my life a misery because every time they did it made me shout even louder and made me even more determined to get the message out there. I knew by forming the TB Support Group and collating the data that in the future I hoped a reliable test would be produced. Lets hope for all our
sakes it has.

I know this post is full of a lot of thank yous but we have a lot of people to thank. We all complain at the simplest thing but how often do we thank people. Ask yourself that.

Dianne Summers
TB Support Group
01209 822422
07949511316
summersdianne@yahoo.com


We all think that the biggest thank-you should actually go to Dianne Summers herself. None of this research, or the TB Roadshows, would have taken place without her tireless campaigning. None of us would know about the dangers of TB in camelids and would have entered our alpacas in shows this year completely ignorant of the risks involved. Dianne has enabled us to make informed choices and thus keep our animals safe and contain the spread of this infection. So thank you Dianne and keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

TB Update

Dianne Summers of the Tb Support group has kindly given us permission to publish this TB update. The spread of TB in camelids is pretty shocking, particularly as this is not the full story. If you suspect that you have TB in your herd please contact Dianne on the telephone numbers on the bottom of her letter so that she can advise and help you.




Dear TB Support Group and TB Update Group and B.A.S. B.C.L.

PLEASE NOTE THIS DATA IS FROM 28 HERDS THAT ARE IN CONTACT WITH THE TB SUPPORT GROUP. 18 OF WHICH ARE CURRENTLY UNDER RESTRICTION AND A FURTHER 10 NOW OUT OF RESTRICTION.

THERE ARE OTHER HERDS UNDER RESTRICTION THAT ARE NOT IN TOUCH WITH THE TB
SUPPORT GROUP. I THEREFORE HAVE NO DATA ON THOSE.

Firstly, I am pleased to announce that my name and the TB Support Group is now added onto the AH/DEFRA letter of consent to test. The letter of consent is the document given to new herds that have the misfortune to come down to TB. A document they must sign when they agree to test. I am thankful to AH/DEFRA for this and proves not only that we are working together but also they recognise the TB Support Group as invaluable help for fellow camelid sufferers. This also puts paid to those that have classed the work I do as being scare mongering and hysteria. DEFRA/AH would hardly contemplate putting my name on such an important document if that was the case.

Up to Dec 31st 2009 those in contact with the TB support group lost 144
alpacas/llamas confirmed TB. This works out roughly 12 a month. From that 144 we had 12 skin test positives 7 of which were from one herd.

In the first 4 months of 2010 From 1st Jan - 30th April 2010 members in contact with the TB support group have lost:

94 alpacas

9 of which were skin test positives

48 were Rapid/Gamma blood test positives All of which passed the skin test.

37 sudden death or euthanized due to clinical signs

94 losses in 4 months = 23.5 per month so double the quarterly ratio of last year.

From this 94 only 9 were skin test positives.

Again this is only from data provided from herds in contact with the TB support group.

We all know the skin test isn't removing infected animals from the herds with the exception of a low number of skin test positives but the blood tests are. This is why the gamma interferon validation project on Tb free areas is vital and a very important update will follow shortly. Watch this space - but we have a lot to thank BAS Mike Birch for - for his constant hard work and the herds who have kindly offered up their alpacas for testing - the alpaca industry have an awful lot to thank you both for. Once/If validated we are well on our way to a reliable ante mortem test but this of course depends on the findings from the trials. Lets all keep our fingers crossed. It is working well on herds with breakdowns but it needs to work well on those not in a breakdown. We all know specificity v sensitivity and the importance of both.

DATA ON BLOOD TESTS

From Nov 2009 - March 31st the Gamma Interferon blood test has been used on 4 herds in the TB Support Group and has picked up 50 TB infected alpacas from 155 alpacas tested in just 4 months on 4 herds.

3 other herds in the TB support group have had both the rapid and gamma blood tests done on their entire herds in May so their data and results are not included in this update. However the Gamma is picking up far more infected animals than the rapid.

Lastly my heartfelt thanks go out to the kind members of the TB Support Group who have kindly submitted their data to me - not only on the numbers lost but also blood test results - side effects - watch group etc.
Thanks to them we have this data and thanks to them this data has driven the gamma validation project along. So thanks to them we are hopefully on our way to a reliable ante mortem test.

I hope you found this information useful - please feel free to post this
information on your websites or blogs.

Kindest regards

Dianne Summers
Camelid TB Support Group
01209 822422
07949511316

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Suggestions to BAS

This is an excerpt taken from a letter sent in October 2009 to the BAS

As Alpaca owners we are very concerned at the explosive and devastating spread of BTB. We were all under the impression that alpacas were not very susceptible to TB, but we now know this to be a complete fallacy. They are in fact highly susceptible, more so than most other farmed animals.

Over the past few years, some isolated cases of BTB have been pushed under the carpet with no thought whatsoever for the future of the Alpaca industry. The situation is now out of control with cases occurring widely. This has been caused by the largely innocent cycle of showing, on-farm matings and general unrestricted movements. If something is not done immediately, we will no longer have an Alpaca industry. Our animals will be unsaleable, and will be treated with the same contempt as badgers, possible even facing complete eradication.

Due to the fact alpacas with BTB generally show few physical symptoms and the testing system (i.e skin tests) are as accurate as tossing a coin, nothing can be done until an accurate test is established for Camelids. At present the only accurate diagnosis is at post mortem, a trifle too late! …………..

It goes on to suggest that:

Serious consideration given to postponing Alpaca shows for the time being, until such time as animals can be accurately tested or vaccinated.

Breeders with affected herds should be encouraged to be more open with their BTB status and to be given help and support.

Breeders who knowingly have BTB in their herds and carry on business as usual should be excluded from the BAS.

Do you think that these suggestions would help to contain the spread of Tb in Alpacas?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Forms for Download

Here are the documents that all responsible breeders and owners must adhere to.

The self declaraion form must also be filled in when attending shows.

Avoid doing business or trading with anybody who refuses to comply with the BAS Code of Conduct or refuses to give a self-declaration form.

If you must attend an alpaca show then do not attend one that does not follow the BAS Show Guildelines.

All these have been put in place to protect you and your animals.

Just click on any of the words in red to download the required forms.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Without the help of the people who have unfortunately contracted Tb in their herds and that are in the TB Support Group and have given their valuable data we would not be in the position of being able to help protect our own herds and stop this disease from spreading, so the first thing that we need to do is send The TB Support Group and all its members our thanks. We are so grateful. It is only through their experiences, help and advice that we can help protect the health of our animals and the future of the alpaca industry.

TB - An Open Debate
Action Now = A Future For The Industry
Or
Nothing to worry about


We want you to let us know how the recent rapid increase in TB in alpacas breakdowns has affected the way you manage your herd.

Let us know your thoughts, the measures you are taking regards the TB situation here in the U.K.

Maybe you have changed nothing and don't see it as a problem.

Have you stopped showing or sending away females for mating - have you become a closed herd or are you carrying on as if nothing has happened?

Did you attend the recent BAS TB Awareness Meetings – if so has this influenced changes you have made.

Let us know by clicking on comments and telling us your views.
You can remain anonymous if you wish.