- Humid air, moist grass and mild temperatures are ‘party central’ for the enemies of alpacas – gastrointestinal worms. More alpacas die through parasitic infestation than virtually any other single cause, yet owners often find it difficult to spot the signs of infestation, and improve husbandry to reduce the effects. Many nematode worm species occupy sections in the gastrointestinal tract of your alpacas. From mouth to rectum is a warm, moist, dark space, perfect for feeding, growing and reproducing. Consider it from the worms’ perspective, life could not be better, tucked away with constant warm temperature, food and protection at no cost to them. Of course, as in all ecosystems, and the digestive tract of your alpacas is an ecosystem, there will be competition between worms for the best ‘pitch’. Different species of worm favour different spaces within the tract. The worm must avoid immune responses of the host but in the main the gut is a very hospitable place for worms to survive, hence their success. These insidious parasites share a common objective; to shelter, grow and reproduce within their host, bringing nothing to the party whilst taking all they can.
- Llamas and alpacas are host to several internal and external parasites. Few published studies exist on the incidence, prevalence and pathogenic effects of many parasites reported in these animals. Treatment and control is further complicated by a lack of licensed antiparasitic products or specific guidelines on their use, nor recommended dose rates based on efficacy and pharmacokinetic studies.
- Gastrointestinal worms are by far the most prevalent of the internal parasites that can affect alpacas. Stomach worms are common place, and it is likely that the majority of animals in your herds will have a number of worms and worm eggs, particularly if you have other classes of stock sharing the same paddocks. A regular worming program will reduce the numbers of worms present and will prevent the problems associated when the numbers multiply and become too great a burden for an animal. There are, however, a few other internal parasites that are less common but can adversely affect alpacas and other classes of stock. To date we have discussed intestinal worms and there is one more parasite of note that can on occasion reside in the intestinal tract of an alpaca and that is the Tapeworm or Cestode. Like all ruminants alpacas are susceptible to a wide range of internal parasites of varying degree of concern to the breeder. Some minor infestations often may go unnoticed for months, if not years, whereas others, if left unchecked, can and do all too often, prove to be fatal.
- One of the major advantages of keeping alpacas is the low maintenance required in their upkeep. In comparison to other classes of stock, alpaca come out head and shoulders (not to mention neck) ahead. One particular area of advantage is the alpaca’s comparatively low parasitic burden. That is not to say, however, that alpacas are not affected by internal parasites. Like all ruminants alpacas are susceptible to a wide range of internal parasites of varying degree of concern to the breeder. Some minor infestations often may go unnoticed for months, if not years, whereas others, if left unchecked, can and do all too often, prove to be fatal.
- Author: Lisa Williamson University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, United States Date of Publication: April, 2014 Publication: American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control Excerpt: As is the…