- Tooth root problems and periodontal diseases are common in South American camelids (SAC). The objective was to evaluate and optimize the imaging technique for dental radiography in SAC and to describe the radiographic and computed tomographic (CT) anatomy of normal teeth at different ages. In this study, the heads of 20 healthy SAC slaughtered for meat production or euthanized for reasons not related to dental problems included 7 female and 10 male llamas and 3 male alpacas. Using a standardized protocol, radiographs and CT scans of the 20 specimen were performed.
- There is an old saying in medicine, “When you hear hoof beats, don’t look for zebras.” It loosely suggests that, when a doctor, or in this case a veterinarian, sees symptoms of a disease, the most common cause of the symptoms is usually the culprit. In the case of a common infection this adage is a simple reminder for doctors that a fever is more likely a cold or flu – and not infectious endocarditis. Which brings me to the purpose of my article which is to inform my fellow alpaca ranchers of a rare illness found in one of our alpacas. In other words, the rare hoof beat that was in fact, a “zebra.” More importantly, I hope to alert you in how not to miss that alpaca with the rare disease. The one that can add to the body of knowledge for all alpaca owners, enabling them to better understand disease in the alpaca.
- Literature describing nutritional or nutrition-related diseases of llamas and alpacas was reviewed. Case reports of copper toxicity, polioencephalomalacia, plant poisonings and urolithiasis accounted for the greatest number of literature citations relative to llamas and alpaca nutritional diseases. However, the overall number of published studies detailing nutritional disease of llamas and alpacas is very limited. Metabolic bone disease, associated with Vitamin D deficiency, and hepatic lipidosis were metabolic diseases for which controlled research studies were completed to address underlying mechanisms. Circumstantial evidence would suggest llamas and alpacas are similar to other ruminants relative to most nutrient deficiency or toxicity disease problems. Llamas and alpacas are unique compared to other ruminant animals in their susceptibility to zinc and Vitamin D deficiency diseases. A zinc-responsive dermatosis has been described, but the true role of zinc deficiency is debated. Llamas and alpacas show a seasonal deficiency in Vitamin D resulting in a hypophosphatemic rickets syndrome. Camelids may have a lower capacity to endogenously synthesize Vitamin D or higher requirement compared to other species. Although mechanisms are not fully understood, llamas and alpacas are somewhat different in metabolic responses to negative energy balance and subsequent hepatic lipidosis. Further research is necessary to better define llama and alpaca nutrient requirements and metabolism as they directly impact potential for nutritional disease.
- Skin disease in alpacas can be due to a variety of different causes: bacteria, fungi, allergies, nutritional problems, and various parasites. One of these parasites is the Chorioptic mange mite. Chorioptic mange can be a real headache to the alpaca owner. Difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, this exasperating parasite can masquerade as its cousin, Sarcoptic mange, or hide out under secondary fungal and/or bacterial infections.
- The first reports of WNV clinical disease in camelids occurred during the 2002 epizootic, which happened to be a particularly bad year for WNV in other species as well, accounting for 284 human deaths and countless bird and horse losses. Confirmation of camelid clinical neurologic disease resulting from WNV infection was made from post-mortem testing using immunohistochemistry and reverse- transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from cases in Ohio and Iowa, respectively.