Veterinarian Robert Broadbent appealed to alpaca breeders to think seriously about bio-security at the British Camelids conference in October and to consider what measures might be put in place to make it happen across the industry.
The bio-security document, written by Robert Broadbent and Claire Whitehead was published in the Autumn edition of Alpaca World magazine.
The camelid community needs to review its provisions for bio-security as a matter of some urgency. After some consultation, there is a document which has been published in all of the owner society magazines which should be read and discussed by everyone connected with the ?industry?.
? What are the aims of and risks to bio-security?
The aims are to prevent the introduction and spread of disease in susceptible populations of animals. The risks come mostly from viruses, bacteria and parasites.
? Potential pathogens
Gastrointestinal parasites including worms, fluke and coccidia, skin parasites such as Chorioptes and Sarcoptes, bacterial agents such as those causing johns and TB, viruses such as BT, BVD and FMD, more that we know of and many more that we don?t yet know of.
? How do we become bio-secure?
Protect your animals from diseases carried onto your farm. Minimise exposure to disease already existing on your farm, and minimise the risk to your animals when they travel away from your farm.
? So, where are the risks to your bio-security?
Primarily, the movement of livestock! - for sale, breeding, showing, trekking, grazing and socialising. Effectively, almost everything you do to enjoy these animals.
? There is a false sense of (bio)security
Because you may know these animals, know their owner, they ?look? healthy, they may have a vets certificate, and you haven?t heard that they have had problems before!!
? What can we sensibly do ?
Avoid contact with unhealthy looking animals, and know the health status of any in contact animals. Ask about current AND past health and ask about worming and vaccine protocols. Ask about disease testing protocols and if necessary get your vets to discuss the risks. Assume your own herd health status to be the minimal acceptable, and make an effort to fully understand the answers to your answers and their consequences.
? Testing for disease
Some form of pre movement testing WILL become mandatory at some time in the future. You and your society/industry need to decide what is important for you and take steps to apply some restrictions before they are forced upon you. Some sort of pre movement testing and quarantine should be agreed on, and the keeping of (paired) samples to guard against the future debate about the origins of a disease outbreak.
? Apply a little common sense
There may be little or no warning of disease, so take some simple precautions now. Remember that people, including other owners and vets and their vehicles, can carry disease. Make sure that you at least minimise those risks by digging out the disinfectant, the brush and the bucket, and putting them back at the closed farm gate.