Camelid TB Support & Research Group
Help and Support for those affected by Bovine TB in Alpacas & Llamas
Following the skin test side effects video having being aired on various websites and blogs, two Alpaca breeders (one in Devon and another in Worcs) have come forward to the Tb Support group and commented:
1. They had both experienced this exact dramatic reaction in one of their alpacas but it wasn't after the skin test it was following treatment for pneumonia/bronchitis.
2. Both alpacas "seemed" to recover
3. Both herds were not aware they had TB in their herds at the time
4. Both herds later lost the alpacas that had this side effect and for both this was their first loss to TB!
We are therefore very interested in not only hearing from owners who had this side effect following the skin test but also if you experienced this following any other treatment. Please contact myself or Dr Gina Bromage. This is being written up for the Vet record and all names will be anonymous and confidential.
Welsh Assembly Consultation Document -
Skin test side Effects
Farmers Guardian Badger Cull Article -
PCR Test -
Farmers Guardian Welsh Badger Cull Article -
Defra TB Measure Consultation Document -
Gamma Interferon Validation Project contract signed -
CountryChannel film ‘Crisis in the Countryside’ -
Welsh bTB consultations URGENT PLEASE RESPOND! Note -
We have received a press release from the Welsh Assembly Government, flagging the end of the consultation on 11th November 2010. The TB Support group will be responding but we urge all individual camelid keepers to respond to the consultation paper. Your views are important. To see the press release click here
You do not need to go through a camelid society to respond -
27/10/2010 Gamma Interferon test update
The camelid gamma interferon test is available once again -
19/11/2010 Support group update -
25/11/2010 Meeting at Weybridge with VLA re: PCR
Gina Bromage and Dianne Summers of the Camledid TB Support Group met with leading scientists at Weybridge on 22/11/2010 to discuss the possible use of the PCR test on urine, saliva etc. as a diagnostic tool -
25/11/2010 Educational Video. Chris Chapman’s film "The Way Forward" can be seen by clicking here
04/01/2011 VLA Quarterly Report
The VLA report for July -
07/01/2011 Camelid Liaison Meeting with AH / Defra / VLA
Dianne Summers, Dr Gina Bromage and Mike Birch representing the TB Support Group will be attending the forthcoming Animal Health/DEFRA camelid liaison meeting on March 16th. Last years meeting which we all attended was a great success and we appreciate the continuing close working relationship that has developed between AH, DEFRA, VLA and the Camelid TB Support Group.
19/01/2011 New bovine TB Controls and terminology that came into effect on 1st January DOES NOT INCLUDE CAMELIDS
Alpacatb.org has been inundated with calls and emails from camelid owners following an email being sent to them from the The British Alpaca Society with the new changes and terminology. Members understandably presumed this included camelids.
We have confirmed with senior TB Policy officials at DEFRA that this Does Not apply to camelids.
There are no ‘officially’ TB free herds of camelids in the UK for the simple reason that they are not routinely screened for TB with a validated ante-
Those that are NOT currently subject to movement restrictions due to an infection confirmed by VLA should at best be regarded as ‘TB status unknown’.
The changes apply only to cattle, farmed buffalo and farmed bison herds, which (unlike camelids and other non-
Camelids are still not subject to routine testing. Current TB policy relating to camelids which was updated recently can be found on this website here.
23/01/2011 NEW PTI (PARISH TESTING INTERVALS) for 2011 AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU.
The new map for 2011 is on our homepage, and you can also download it here.
Although Camelids are not subject to routine testing it is important to know if you live in an area of high risk. The Map on the homepage makes it simple to see if your entire county falls into a 12, 24, 36 or 48 month testing interval, but not so easy if you are in a county with differing intervals or if you lie in the buffer zone.
You can find out what the PTI testing intervals for your town/parish for England. Scotalnd and Wales by clicking on the link DO YOU LIVE IN A HIGHER RISK AREA which is above the map on our home page or by clicking here.
Why is it imprtant that you know? – simply because you can take measures to reduce the risk because PTIs follow the spread of infection. The more frequent the testing interval the greater the risk to your herd.
The same link explains why these changes have been made and below is a section of the statement that explains the reason for the new PTIs for 2011.
“There has been evidence that suggests there has been some further limited geographical spread and increased risk of TB in certain areas. As a result, for 2011 the core annual testing area has been expanded in some places, and the whole of the two year testing buffer has been widened, particularly in Cheshire and the East Midlands. In doing this the two year testing buffer and background four year testing areas have been brought in line with the requirements of EU legislation (Directive 64/432/EEC (as amended).”
The new PTIs came into effect on 1st January 2011
16/02/2011 Defra figures for 2010 are now complete and totals for NEW culture confirmed M.bovis HERD breakdowns per year are shown in the table below, which can also be found on the defra website here. PLEASE NOTE that this shows NEW breakdowns per year and not the current ongoing total which is higher. For example, herds listed below in 2009 may still have been under restriction in 2010, but are only shown in the table once. It is worth noting that in 2010 three herds are epidemiologically linked via movement or purchase of infected animals. The numbers represent herds -
24/02/2011 Animal Health have kindly provided us with the current total of camelid herds under restriction. The number has increased from 32 to 39 since the last quarter. Not all of the herds are within a 12 or 24 month testing area.
Note: Defra have informed us of a further breakdown in 2010 which has only cultured for M.bovis in February 2011, making the total for 2010 15 new breakdowns in camelid herds last year.
02/03/2011 Defra have informed us of a further breakdown in 2010, bringing the total of newly affected herds to 15 for 2010. It had been thought that the lesions in an alpaca were due to a chronic parasitic infestation. However, the tissue cultures have now identified M. bovis.
30/03/2011 ‘Consent to test’ letter
The latest ‘Consent to test’ letter can be found under the “You have TB -
10/03/2011 The Tuberculosis (Wales) Order 2011
New legislation that will be of interest to the keepers of camelids (alpacas, llamas, guanacos, vicunas) goats and deer in Wales has been introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Tuberculosis (Wales) Order 2011, which comes into force on 31 March 2011, follows a consultation exercise which ended last November and forms part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s TB Eradication Programme.
The Order puts the prevention and management of incidents of bovine TB in camelids, goats and deer on a similar footing to the arrangements already in place for cattle. It does not introduce a requirement for regular testing or for Pre Movement Testing. However, it will introduce controls to help prevent the spread of disease and for compensation when these animals are slaughtered due to bovine TB. Key features include:
Statutory compensation for animals removed as TB reactors
A link between the responsibilities of animal keepers and compensation in order to encourage positive action by keepers to protect their animals from bovine TB
A requirement that keepers keep a record of the movement of their animals and produce that record if required
Professor Christianne Glossop, Wales’s Chief Veterinary Officer, is keen that all keepers of animals in Wales recognise the part they have to play in eradicating this disease. Prof Glossop said:
“We are very grateful for the many constructive and helpful responses we received to this consultation and have taken many of these on board in shaping the legislation. The Order will provide Animal Health with the tools they need to work effectively and quickly with keepers in dealing with incidents of TB in these animals and help prevent the further spread of disease.”
The Tuberculosis (Wales) Order 2011 can be found here:
02/04/2011 Free Farm Badger Surveys
South West TB Farm Advisory Service are offering full farm Badger surveys and advice. SWTBFAS receives funding from Defra and the EU to support their service. For further details go to http://www.southwest-
01/04/2011 Merger of Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency
The merger of Animal Health and the VLA, announced last June, takes place today, April 1st.
21/04/2011 Government Camelid Liaison Meeting
Dr Gina Bromage and Dianne Summers representing the Camelid TB Support Group attended the Government Camelid Liaison Meeting held in Stafford on March 16th. Also in attendance were "industry" representatives Graham Reed and Anthony Turner for British Alpaca Society. BVCS Robert Broadbent representing British Camelids Limited and the British Veterinary Camelid Society and Liz Butler representing British Llama Society.
The meeting was chaired by the Regional Operations Director for the West Midlands and many senior policy and operational partners from Animal Health, DEFRA and VLA attended.
This was a very comprehensive meeting and covered a wide range of topics.
The purpose of these meetings is to share information and knowledge with the aim to work together with the common goal of ensuring that important information disseminates to all owners of camelids and the veterinary profession. The "industry" BAS/BCL and BLS together with BVCS and ourselves the TB Support Group should keep our members updated with relevant and important information.
Education, Awareness and improved knowledge are key so that camelid owners and their vets are aware of current and emerging diseases thanks to the work conducted by the VLA. Camelid keepers can then take measures to reduce the risk of any disease not just TB and this improved partnership with DEFRA and the newly merged AHVLA is the only way forward to achieve that.
This was a very successful meeting and a full update on the meeting will be provided shortly on this website. Our thanks to Animal Health for putting this meeting together -
17/07/2011 Changes to affected herd totals on home page
Due to a number of requests from alpaca owners and vets and also the difficulty in obtaining up to date information from Defra, we have changed the format for providing the data shown in large red letters on our home page. We used to give the number of current herds under movement restrictions but this was proving difficult as this data changes on a daily basis. We have therefore decided that in future we will simply give the total number of alpaca and llama herds that have been confirmed m.bovis on culture up to date. Defra will provide us with new breakdowns per quarter and we will update the number accordingly. Up to 31st March 2011 there have been 52 herds confirmed with m.bovis.
17/07/2011 Better Recording of losses in Camelid TB Breakdowns
We are working with AH/VLA to get accurate recording of losses within camelid herds that are in a culture confirmed bTB breakdown. We hope that AHVLA will produce a table which will show number of losses of camelids culled for TB disease control purposes similar to the tables that are produced for cattle. Currently the only table given by Defra is the non bovine table which only shows the number cultured and not the total number of camelids lost due to being affected by a TB breakdown. As only a very small proportion go for culture, the table is misleading to the lay person and distressing to those that have lost camelids to TB. Some members of the alpaca industry are using the table to say TB in camelids isn't a problem. Compared to cattle this is true but in some cases 100% of the herd has been lost. You can see the DEFRA table here.
Defra do give footnotes to the table explaining not all losses are recorded, but to get the true scale of the problem, we need to know the actual number of dead and culled animals. Ideally we need a table that shows the numbers of camelids culled due to blood tests reactors, skin tests reactors, on clinical signs, or given up as dangerous contacts. This would then give a true an accurate picture of the devastation that TB causes if you succumb to a breakdown in your herd. Our contacts at AHVLA who work with us have agreed this is important and we are working towards this.
There are 30 members of the TB Support Group who have between them lost 422 alpacas. The table below shows 17 case histories, and shows their initial herd size, and subsequent losses to TB and TB control measures.
If you refer to the table below it is clear that the numbers of alpacas lost to TB and TB control measures is very different to the number that are cultured and therefore reported on the Defra non-
We fully appreciate the massive strain on Defra and AHVLA, and we fully appreciate camelids are in a minority compared to other livestock, but those owners who are being responsible and having a PM, agreeing to blood tests and are culling reactors -
20/07/2011 Defra Bovine TB Eradication Programme for England
On July 19th Defra released the very comprehensive Bovine TB Eradication Programme for England report. See here for full report. Camelids and other non bovine species are covered in section 4 starting at page 48. Jump to this section here.
In the section ‘Other measures’, DEFRA state: " We will be improving the current statistics collected for each non-
We are pleased with this statement and it supports our previous News item (below) "Better Recording of losses”
However we are concerned that the table included in the report in respect of camelids may cause confusion, and also that it does not include the footnotes that are included with the full report on the DEFRA website (see here) As explained in the news item below dated 17/07/2011, the actual number of camelids lost far exceeds the number stated in the table.
We are also pleased to see that the report vindicates our long held view that the existing skin test is ineffective in camelids.
The report states “While the skin test is effective when used in most non-
We are pleased to announce that the Camelid TB Support Group has this week signed a contract with AHVLA to carry out initial trials into the use of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology as a diagnostic test for bTB in Camelids.
In the background statement supporting the trial scientists at the VLA state:
“There are frequently extensive and severe gross lesions in camelids. This is likely to make them infectious but also means that it should be possible to detect the organism by PCR in clinical samples.”
This research is funded entirely by the Support Group, and we urgently require your assistance to cover the costs of this and, if successful any further development work. Details of how to donate can be found on the ‘donate’ tab of this website -
Further details of the PCR trial click here
12/08/2011 PCR Test Project
25/08/2011 Veterinary Record report of TB in the mammary gland of an alpaca. M. J. Richey, A. P. Foster, T. R. Crawshaw, et al.
This recently published item in the Vet Record confirms that lesions can be found in the mammary glands of alpacas. See quote below:
“This demonstrates the potential for direct exposure to M bovis via milk and possible spread to other herds via movement of crias before the
development of clinical signs. This alpaca was not lactating on submission; however, its cria born in 2010 had died at a young age and its death was not investigated. The owners and attending veterinary surgeon involved in this case had regularly flushed the discharging lesion, possibly creating bacterial aerosols. We would urge colleagues to be aware of the potential of TB in udder lesions of alpacas, and to consider the associated risk involved in the treatment of such lesions.”
26/08/2011 PCR Test Project -
Further to the news item of 12/08/2011 (see below) we still require help with funding of the PCR project. Please note that we receive no contact or assistance from the BAS and that this project is not connected with the BAS ‘just giving’ fund. We still await an answer of any kind to our request for a donation from BAS and BCL.
PCR could be a vital tool in the fight against TB in camelids, and your contribution could help. Details of how to donate can be found on our ‘Donate’ page. We would be grateful for a contribution of any size. Thank you
For details of the PCR trial click here
08/09/2011 PCR Test Project -
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Farmers Union of Wales for their generous donation of £1000 to the PCR project. The donation is given in recognition of the relevance of the research to the wider livestock industry, and in particular cattle.
We are grateful to all who have donated so far -
09/09/2011 PCR Test Project -
British Camelids Ltd have informed us that a generous donation has been approved and will be with us shortly. We are very grateful for their support.
Please note that we are still short of our target to fund this important project and that your contribution will be gratefully received.
02/11/2011 PCR Test Project
The funds needed for the PCR project have been raised and the project is now under way. We would like to express our gratitude to those who have contributed to make this important research possible. We will keep them informed of developments.
We have been made aware by AHVLA that the number of camelids being presented for post mortem examination has dropped dramatically in 2011. It is vitally important for your herd’s health and surveillance of all diseases affecting your herd, not only bTB, that PME’s are carried out. PME at AHVLA should be arranged through your vet.
02/11/2011 Post Mortem Examinations
02/11/2011 Herds Under Restrictions
Defra have confirmed that the number of Camelid herds under Movement restrictions at the end of October 2011 was 37.
29/11/2011 Defra Table Update
Defra have updated the table titled ‘Annual numbers of new incidents of culture-
03/02/2012 Blood Tests
The gamma interferon test is no longer being offered to herds under restriction as the trial has come to an end. The only blood test currently being offered is the Chembio Rapid Stat Pak test. Please see here for information on bTB tests.
05/03/2012 New Breakdowns
We have been contacted by three previously unaffected herds with bTB newly confirmed by culture. This brings the total number of camelids bTB breakdowns to 56. We are also in touch with other herds currently awaiting culture.
23/03/2012 Important report ‘Diagnostic Value of Animal-
Tuberculosis (TB) in South American camelids (SAC) is caused by Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacteriumn microti. Two serological methods, rapid testing (RT) and the dual-
The TB validation project report has been released and can be read here
The slide presentation given by Dr. Martin Vordermeier at the BAS AGM can be downloaded here. We are encouraged to note one of the possible applications suggested is “To resolve TB outbreaks in known infected herds one could use skin and anamnestic StatPak (or IDEXX) serology as a minimum to lift restrictions.” See page 20.
24/03/2012 Validation of ante mortem TB tests in camelids
We would like to thank the members of the Eastern Region Alpaca Group (ERAG) for their generous donation of over £700 to the TBSRG. It is heartening to receive such support.
03/04/2012 Donation from ERAG
The video can be viewed on the "You Have TB -
Despite her own herd remaining clear since coming out of restrictions in May 2010, and having taken all possible precautions, Dianne Summers has had confirmation that she has TB m.bovis herself and has begun treatment. It is confirmed that she has her own herd’s spoligotype (unique strain) and has not handled any other alpacas with the same strain.
Human treatment for TB m.bovis takes a minimum of nine months and consists of a variety of drugs with some unpleasant side effects -
This underlines the reason that TB should be taken so seriously -
11/04/2012 Transmission to Alpaca Owner
21/05/2012 Camelid Liason Meeting
Representatives from the CTBSRG will be attending the Government/camelid industry liason meeting to be held at AHVLA Weybridge on the 29th May.
23/05/2012 398 alpacas culled in Sussex TB outbreak
The BAS have confirmed that 398 alpacas have been culled in a herd in Sussex. A further 62 remain at the farm having passed both the skin and blood tests. This has been widely reported in both the farming and general press. The BBC News report can be found here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-
Entire herd ‘depopulations’ such as this and the culling of high numbers from alpaca herds has happened before. We have data from 18 herds (so we do not have the number dead and culled from at least 40 more herds) who have given us details of the number of alpacas that they have lost to bTB and its control measures. One herd lost all 110 of its alpacas, another 52 out of 52, a third 48 out of 54. The table showing the number of deaths can be seen at the bottom of the page shown here.
01/06/2012 Updated Defra bTB Incidence in camelids table
The updated Defra camelid TB incidence table to the end of the first quarter 2012 can be found on our home page and here. It shows four culture confirmed breakdowns in the first three months of this year.
A petition is currently circulating which at best is based on misinformation and has no obvious clear aim.
To be clear, our position is this:
SkinTest. As currently used, the skin test is not effective enough to find and beat the disease. If you have a breakdown and that is the only test you use you are very unlikely to find the disease and remove it from your herd. It in no way guarantees an alpaca is bTB free.
Blood tests. Armed with the data from the recent blood test validation project, we consider that two options offer a practical test that owners could use (if offered) to beat the disease in their herds, with an acceptable risks of false positives.
The Rapid Stat Pak test has a 68.8 sensitivity (it would find 68.8 out of 100 bTB infected alpacas) with 97.7% specificity (it would give a false result in 2.3 out of 100 disease free animals). By using the Idexx test in addition, the sensitivity increases to 81.3 %, and the specificity reduces to 95.8%.
The tests that you might choose in a breakdown situation when faced with saving your herd might be different to those that you would use in a presumed TB free herd in a low risk area of the country. No test is perfect, but the specificity (risk of false positives) of the Rapid Test is probably as good as it gets – if we seriously want to beat and remove bTB from our herds it is currently the only option.
The inference that the Support Group in some way dictates policy and the tests used is of course ridiculous. We are confident that the information contained on this website is accurate; From prior to its launch as now, we welcome any corrections or comments.
11/07/2012 BAS Statement
The BAS have issued a statement regarding the Support Group.
This in no way changes our position nor will it affect the work we do. We have never received any help, encouragement or support (financial or moral) from the BAS at any time, and we will continue to help camelid owners facing a breakdown, and to help others remain bTB free.
We are an independent group and have never claimed to be working on behalf of the BAS. We work on behalf of camelid owners irrespective of membership of any society. There is a large and increasing population of camelids whose owners are not society members who also need support and information.
We consider it to be vital that all interested parties continue to work with Defra and AHVLA to beat this disease. There is no place for pride in this fight.
As there has been a great deal of media interest in Dianne’s TB m.bovis infection, Dianne Summers, Dr Gina Bromage and Mike Birch have each written a statement containing information relating to Dianne’s illness, and the wider issue of bTB.
The press are welcome to use the information contained therein as long as it is quoted accurately and in context. Any extract taken from these statements or elsewhere on this website must be credited and the web address of this website included. Please respect this request as the purpose of the support group and this website is to provide important information to help those who have bTB in their herds, and to help others prevent it happening to them. Thank you.
25/04/2012 Transmission to Alpaca Owner -
13/07/2012 Blood tests
Due to recent misinformation being circulated we have been inundated with requests to qualify certain information regarding bloods tests and their future and current use. We have also been asked to simplify the results that are detailed in the recent Validation of ante mortem tests in Camelids conducted by the AHVLA. This document is on our website under bTB Tests
As at today, July 13th, no changes or decisions have been made regarding the use of blood tests either for private use or whilst under TB restrictions.
On May 29th this year the Camelid TB Support and Research Group together with representatives from BCL (British Camelids Ltd) BVCS (British veterinary Camelid Society) BLS (British llama Society) and BAS (British alpaca society) attended a camelid liaison meeting with AHVLA and DEFRA in Weybridge. A presentation on the results of the validated blood tests and possible future use was given by Senior AHVLA and DEFRA colleagues. We were then all asked to submit our opinions on their future use both as a private test and whilst under TB restrictions.
DEFRA policy will look at all our feedback and will make decisions based on the TB situation in Camelids and how best to control this disease in our species. We can only give our opinions and when the final decision is made by DEFRA -
Until such time -
We have given a simplified summary of the blood test that have been validated on our bTB Tests page.
04/08/2012 PCR Proof of Concept Study -
The long awaited results of this study are better than we had expected and can be found by clicking here.
The second phase of this study (which will only take a further month to complete) needs your donations please click here
24/09/2012 Funding for second stage of PCR Proof of concept trial
A huge thank you to British Llama society Chairman Tim Crowfoot and to all BLS members for their very generous donation to the second stage of this study. We cannot thank them enough.
We no longer need to raise any further funds for this stage of the trial. Hopefully the second stage will be completed in around one months time. Both British Llama Society and British Camelids Limited have very generously supported this important study. As always thanks to the Farmers Union of Wales, members of the cattle industry, and to individual alpaca owners in the UK and Europe who have donated to this project.
We have received no reply from the BAS to a request for support.
25/09/2012 Defra Tb Policy Open Letter
Defra have published an open letter to all camelid owners in England to clarify the position, facts and science about TB testing in camelids. You can read the letter here and also on our bTB Tests page. Please be aware that the changes stated in the letter are proposals and are not yet in place.
We are pleased that this statement corrects the misinformation and rumour that has been spread by some within the industry.
Older News Items. To jump to current news click here
27/09/2012 Publication of Blood test evaluation project
Defra have sent us a copy of the published blood test evaluation report which can be downloaded here.
This refutes the rumours and misinformation being circulated by some breeders that the tests have not been validated or peer reviewed.
All camelid owners should be grateful to those owners who were in a confirmed TB breakdown who chose voluntarily to do the blood tests rather than choose to come out of restrictions on the skin test alone, and also to those owners from TB free areas who offered their alpacas for the trial.
Many members of the TB Support Group who were in confirmed TB breakdowns agreed to trial these tests before the trial began, during the trial and after the trial ended, and continue to do even though they are optional. All have contributed to this project and all are owed a huge debt of gratitude by all camelid owners
We are pleased to see the contribution of the Support Group acknowledged in the report.