Camelids

Although reports of infection in their natural habitat in South America are few, cases of Tuberculosis (TB) have been diagnosed in llamas and alpacas in Great Britain. There is no requirement to identify camelids or record their movements. A voluntary, private surveillance scheme for TB is available for the camelid industry.

Alpacas and llamas appear to be very susceptible to Mycobacterium bovis infection. Signs of infection with TB include weight loss and respiratory signs. At post mortem examination, lesions are predominantly in the respiratory system although they are seen in other organs in cases of more generalised disease. Lung lesions are often very extensive and cavitation is common, where lung tissue is destroyed and replaced by a cavity. Cavitation may be important in the spread of TB.

In England, compensation for camelids which are compulsorily slaughtered as TB reactors or TB affected animals is:

  • £1500 for a stud male or breeding female over 18 months old
  • £750 for a non-breeding animal over 18 months old
  • £750 for an animal 18 months old or younger

Post-mortem images of TB in camelids (images include graphic content):

Q&A – Contiguous TB testing of camelids in England

Whilst camelids are not routinely tested for TB, the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) can serve a notice on a camelid keeper requiring the animals to be tested at the government’s expense in order to ascertain the presence of TB. This is necessary when camelid premises are contiguous to a herd of cattle with officially TB free status withdrawn (OTFW) or a flock/herd of non-bovine species (camelids, pigs, sheep, goats or captive deer) with culture-positive Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) infection.

It will not be necessary to place your camelid herd under immediate movement restrictions unless, after a veterinary risk assessment, it is considered that there is a risk of disease spread, or the contiguous TB test becomes overdue. 

The test will be carried out by an official veterinarian (OV) – your private vet, at the government’s expense.

First, a single intradermal injection of bovine tuberculin will be administered. This injection will only serve to boost the specific antibody response to M. bovis in any TB-infected camelids in the herd to increase the sensitivity of the ensuing blood test. Skin reactions will not have to be read. Blood samples will be taken by the vet 10 to 30 days after the injection of bovine tuberculin, for testing at APHA. You can choose either a ‘four-spot’ (high specificity) interpretation of the Enferplex test, or a combination of IDEXX and DPPVetTB tests in serial interpretation. This is for you to discuss with your vet, but there is no significant difference between the two approaches in terms of diagnostic sensitivity and specificity (the likelihood of false negative and false positive results). Please note, however, that the DPPVetTB test is reserved for submissions to APHA not exceeding 40 camelid blood samples. Larger sample/herd sizes will be tested at APHA using the IDEXX/Enferplex options. Furthermore, Enferplex test runs at APHA require 10 or more blood samples. For fewer samples, the laboratory will inform you if this is likely to cause a delay in the reporting of test results and may offer an alternative test option if this is the case. If you wish, we may instruct your vet to carry out a full single intradermal comparative cervical test (SICCT) instead of the intradermal injection of bovine tuberculin for priming only. In this case the skin test reactions to the avian and bovine tuberculins must be read (72 ±4 hrs after the injection), recorded on the ‘Tuberculin Test Chart for Non-Bovine Animals’ and any TB reactor(s) will need to be compulsory slaughtered with compensation paid.

Yes. All positive camelid(s) will need to be removed. This applies to animals positive to the blood test, as well as the skin test if the full skin test (SICCT) is carried out. In England, compensation for camelids which are compulsorily slaughtered for TB reasons is:

  • £1500 for a stud male or breeding female over 18 months old
  • £750 for a non-breeding animal over 18 months old
  • £750 for an animal 18 months old or younger