Camelid TB Support & Research Group

Mike Birch                            

Dianne Summers                 

Help and Support for those affected by Bovine TB in Alpacas & Llamas

Email: Support@alpacatb.org

07711 927526

01209 822422  Mobile 07949 511316

“That Cough”

One question I get asked over and over again from concerned alpaca owners are about symptoms of TB.  As you know symptoms do vary but in my case and several other TB infected owners coughing was a symptom - in fact my ONLY OBVIOUS symptom.

Below you will see a link to a video clip of my 4th loss Raphael.  This clip was taken 4 days before he was Euthanized and was taken by Dr Gina Bromage and her husband Peter.

There are 2 reasons for this Video.  

1. To show you not all TB infected alpacas lose a lot of weight which is a sign many people ONLY look out for - as I said before none of mine lost weight except my first one. He lost weight whilst my vet and I tried to treat him for everything under the sun - from pneumonia to liver fluke not knowing he had Tb. Before he started losing weight he had this cough.

2. Secondly to show you the cough now known as THAT COUGH and how different this cough is to the usual cough they make when they have eaten too quickly or swallowed a piece of hay that has tickled their throat. So hopefully it will put your mind at rest. Before this video was taken I was constantly asked “what does the cough sound like” and that is the reason I took this video.

I sent this clip to my fellow TB sufferers who had coughing as a symptom and THEY ALL replied to me saying this was the exact same cough as they had. It therefore isn't a coincidence.

Please note they DO NOT cough continually all day – they may only cough like this about 3 or 4 times a day and it can be just 3 – 4 coughs at a time -so if you don't live in your fields with your alpacas and most of us don’t - you could quite easily miss it.

I am not saying for one minute that if your alpaca coughs like this it has TB - BUT myself and Dr Gina Bromage agrees that if you see this same cough in any of your alpacas repeated over several days - it would be wise to isolate it with a mate for company and call your vet to give it treatment because the animal has something wrong with its chest that needs treatment - not necessarily Tb. But it is better to err on the side of caution - because when they cough like this and if it is TB then they are passing it not only onto your others but maybe onto you and your family/handlers and neighbouring livestock and wildlife.

Click on the link below to watch the video and by the way - he was very stressed and breathing heavier than usual because Gina was teaching me how to use a stethoscope on him and he wasn't happy - bless his heart - he got into quite a strop and that is why his breathing rate was high. I do count my herd’s resp rates daily as it is a very good indication of trouble. Only count resp rates when they are calm - not when they are stressed. Ideal time is when they are cushed and chewing the cud.

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