• Identification and Characterization of microRNAs in White and Brown Alpaca Skin

    MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding 21–25 nt RNA molecules that play an important role in regulating gene expression. Little is known about the expression profiles and functions of miRNAs in skin and their role in pigmentation. Alpacas have more than 22 natural coat colors, more than any other fiber producing species. To better understand the role of miRNAs in control of coat color we performed a comprehensive analysis of miRNA expression profiles in skin of white versus brown alpacas. more »
  • Important Ectoparasites of Alpaca (Vicugna pacos)

    The alpacas as other livestock are exposed to and affected by a range of ectoparasites (see Table 1). Of particular importance are the mange mites, the burrowing Sarcoptes scabiei and the non-burrowing Chorioptes sp and Psoroptes sp and lice, both biting and sucking Phthiraptera. The mange mites have been reported to be common infestations on alpacas also in countries outside of South America. Problems with mange are reported frequently from several countries in Europe [5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. In the UK e.g. 23 % of alpaca owners were concerned [8] and in Switzerland alpaca owners regarded mange as one of the four most frequent health problems [11]. Sarcoptes scabiei var aucheniae is very prevalent in alpacas as well as in other SACs [3]. It is said to be responsible for 95 % of all losses due to ectoparasites in alpacas [12, 13]. Infestations with Chorioptes sp are also very common. Some regard Chorioptes mites as the most common ectoparasite infesting SACs [14]. The mite is assumed to be C bovis [15, 16]. Psoroptes (aucheniae) ovis may also be found to infest particularly the earlaps (pinna) and the outer ear canals, but can also be found elsewhere on the body of alpacas. Mixed infections occur with two and even three of the mite species [9, 17, 16]. more »
  • Tuberculosis in Alpaca (Lama pacos) on a Farm in Ireland. 2. Results of an Epidemiological Investigation

    Tuberculosis (TB), due to infection with Mycobacterium bovis was diagnosed in a flock of alpaca in Ireland in 2004. An epidemiological investigation was conducted to identify the risk of TB for farmed alpaca where TB is endemic, the origin of the infection, the potential for alpaca-to-alpaca transmission and appropriate control measures. The investigation focused on the alpaca flock (including the farm, animal movements and breeding, feeding and flock health practice), the disease episode (including animal disease events and subsequent control measures) and TB infection risk in the locality. The TB risk to alpaca is high in areas where infection is endemic in cattle and badgers and where biosecurity is inadequate. It is most likely that the source of infection for the alpaca was a local strain of M. bovis, present in cattle in this area since at least 2001. Genotyping of isolates identified a single variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) profile in both cattle and alpaca in this region. Although a tuberculous badger was also removed from the vicinity, bacterial isolation was not attempted. On this farm, infection in alpaca was probably derived from a common source. Alpaca-to-alpaca transmission seems unlikely. Two broad control strategies were implemented, aimed at the rapid removal of infected (and potentially infectious) animals and the implementation of measures to limit transmission. Tests that proved useful in detecting potentially-infected animals included measurement of the albumin-to-globulin ratio and regular body condition scoring. Skin testing was time consuming and unproductive, and early detection of infected animals remains a challenge. The flock was managed as a series of separate groupings, based on perceived infection risk. No further TB cases have been detected. more »
  • Tuberculosis in Alpaca (Lama pacos) on a Farm in Ireland. 1. A Clinical Report

    This case report describes tuberculosis (TB) due to infection with Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) in alpaca (Lama pacos) on a farm in Ireland. Two severely debilitated alpaca were presented to the University Veterinary Hospital, University College Dublin in November 2004. Bloods were taken, and haematology and biochemistry results were indicative of chronic infection. Radiological examination showed evidence of diffuse granulomatous pneumonia suggestive of tuberculosis. On necropsy there were granulomatous lesions present throughout many body organs including lung, liver, kidney, intestine as well on peritoneum and mesentery. Culture of acid-fast bacilli from lesions led to a diagnosis of tuberculosis due to M. bovis. The use of intradermal skin testing proved inefficient and unreliable for ante mortem diagnosis of tuberculosis in alpaca. Infection due to M. bovis should be considered among the differential diagnoses of debilitating diseases in alpaca, particularly those farmed in areas known to be traditional black spots for tuberculosis in cattle. more »
  • Comparison of McMaster and FECPAKG2 Methods for Counting Nematode Eggs in the Faeces of Alpacas

    This study aimed to compare the FECPAKG2 and the McMaster techniques for counting of gastrointestinal nematode eggs in the faeces of alpacas using two floatation solutions (saturated sodium chloride and sucrose solutions). Faecal eggs counts from both techniques were compared using the Lin’s concordance correlation coefficient and Bland and Altman statistics. Results showed moderate to good agreement between the two methods, with better agreement achieved when saturated sugar is used as a floatation fluid, particularly when faecal egg counts are less than 1000 eggs per gram of faeces. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study to assess agreement of measurements between McMaster and FECPAKG2 methods for estimating faecal eggs in South American camelids. more »