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.

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 01209 822422
Gina Bromage MA, Vet MB, DVM, MRCVS
Camelid TB Support Group


  1. Thank you Diane and The TB group for showing breeders what to look for, and highlighting the seriousness of biosecurity on the farm

  2. You are welcome Raelene
    Kindest Regards

  3. We have had 2 alpaca owners come forward after seeing this post - who suffered the same side effect exactly the same as the video after treating with antio biotics for suspected pneumonia. In both cases thier alpacas appeared to fully recover but months later died and both confirmed Tb on post mortem.
    So it appears it isn't just the TB test that causes this reaction. In both cases this was their first lost to TB.

  4. Thank you for showing this and continuing the work to educate all of the alpaca community and the vets who treat us. I am just writing up my own experiences of my first TB test (all went well)and was looking up links to put on my page. Very glad I found this.