Camelid TB Support & Research Group

Mike Birch                            

Dianne Summers                 

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


07711 927526

01209 822422  Mobile 07949 511316

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 - to view click here Note - Deadline now passed

Skin test side Effects

Farmers Guardian Badger Cull Article - to view click here

PCR Test - BBC News story - to view click here

Farmers Guardian Welsh Badger Cull Article - to view click here

Defra TB Measure Consultation Document - to view click here

Gamma Interferon Validation Project contract signed - to view click here

CountryChannel film ‘Crisis in the Countryside’ - to view click here

Welsh Assembly Government consultation on badger control in the Intensive Action Area English  Welsh

                  Welsh bTB consultations URGENT PLEASE RESPOND!  Note - Deadline now passed

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 - you may respond as an individual by following the link below to make sure your views are heard. The consultation document and information on how to respond can be found on the Welsh Assembly Government website at


27/10/2010  Gamma Interferon test update

The camelid gamma interferon test is available once again - click here


19/11/2010  Support group update  - click here

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 - not to replace blood testing but to determine whether m.bovis can be detected by using PCR in camelids. The possibility of conducting an infectious study was also discussed. PCR has long been talked about and it was felt that it is important to establish the facts and limitations of  the PCR test. An update will follow in the near future

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 - September 2010 contains information on TB in camelids, including the presence of TB lesions in the udder tissue of an infected alpaca. To quote the report “This case highlights the potential for spread of TB infection from the udder to a suckling cria”. The report can be found here.  We are also pleased to see that alongside links to Defra websites the report contains a link to this support group website.

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 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-mortem test as most cattle herds are, plus there are no agreed criteria for designating camelid herds as ‘OTF’ (Officially TB free).

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-bovine farmed animals) are within the scope of EU Directive 64/432/EEC and, therefore, subject to mandatory routine TB surveillance by tuberculin skin testing at regular intervals.

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.


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 - not individual animals.

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 - what’s next” section and also here. We are grateful to Animal Health for adding the support group contact details to the form, so that those newly affected have a source of information and advice when they need it.  

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

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.

Please see here for the details, and here for FAQ’s

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 - it is very much appreciated.

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-bovine table; Once TB has been confirmed in a herd only a small number of animals are cultured and the non-bovine table only includes animals that go through the VLA. - many culled animals do not go though a VLA lab.

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 - their losses need to be recognised.and reported I am confident having spoken at great length with senior officials at DEFRA and AHVLA that we will be able to obtain this data and we will then produce that table on this website.

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-bovine species to provide monthly statistics for the numbers of herds or flocks infected; number of animals’ skin or blood tested; number of TB test reactors and cases removed"  

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-bovine species, our experience of its use in camelids suggests that it is not sufficiently sensitive in these species.”

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 - please do not leave it to others to support this valuable work.

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.”

Read the full report here and also on the ‘reducing the risk’ page of this website

26/08/2011 PCR Test Project - Funding

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 - Donation by Farmers Union of Wales

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 - please note that if you haven’t yet contributed we still need your support. If you want to be a part of the solution please see our ‘donate’ page to find out how to pay. Please note that if you give to the BAS ‘Just Giving’ fund, we will not recieve your money - this project is funded by the TB Support Group.

09/09/2011 PCR Test Project - Donation by British Camelids Ltd

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-confirmed M.bovis identified on South American camelid premises in GB’ which can be found here:  follow the link and go to the 2nd tab on the spreadsheet.  You can see a PDF of it here.


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-Side Antibody Assays for Rapid Detection of Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacterium microti Infection in South American Camelids’ This contains confirmation of the innefectiveness of the comparitive skin test to detect m.bovis in camelids. The introduction is below and the full report can be seen here The summary is below.

Tuberculosis (TB) in South American camelids (SAC) is caused by Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacteriumn microti. Two serological methods, rapid testing (RT) and the dual-path platform (DPP) assay, were evaluated using naturally infected SAC. The study population included 156 alpacas and 175 llamas in Great Britain, Switzerland, and the United States. TB due to M. bovis (n  44) or M. microti (n  8) in 35 alpacas and 17 llamas was diagnosed by gross pathology examination and culture. Control animals were from herds with no TB history. The RT and the DPP assay showed sensitivities of 71% and 74%, respectively, for alpacas, while the sensitivity for llamas was 77% for both assays. The specificity of the DPP assay (98%) was higher than that of RT (94%) for llamas; the specificities of the two assays were identical (98%) for alpacas. When the two antibody tests were combined, the parallel-testing interpretation (applied when either assay produced a positive result) enhanced the sensitivities of antibody detection to 89% for alpacas and 88% for llamas but at the cost of lower specificities (97% and 93%, respectively), whereas the serial-testing interpretation (applied when both assays produced a positive result) maximized the specificity to 100% for both SAC species, although the sensitivities were 57% for alpacas and 65% for llamas. Over 95% of the animals with evidence of TB failed to produce skin test reactions, thus confirming concerns about the validity of this method for testing SAC. The findings suggest that serological assays may offer a more accurate and practical alternative for antemortem detection of camelid TB.

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  -whats Next" section of this website.



Older News Items. To jump to current news click here

Back to top of Older News

Back to top of Current News