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Painted Spring Farm Alpacas

Quality Alpacas with a Focus on Fiber

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Listeriosis - Something new and scary

After 15 years of owning alpacas, you would think that we'd seen just about everything. But it always seems there is something new and most of the time these new things aren't so great.

I came home from being away at a show for 4 days and my Husband mentioned that one of my girls was walking in circles on her way in from the pasture. Circles - seemed a bit odd, but in watching her, nothing else really seemed wrong with her. I saw her eating and she wasn't humming in distress. To be on the safe side, I started giving her 3cc of injectable Thiamine every few hours. Thiamine is amazing in treating PEM and other disorders, and because it's water soluble, they can't OD on it.

After a day of the Thiamine injections, I really didn't see any change in her behavior. Her temp was slightly elevated (102.2) but nothing that I would panic about. I turned to the best place I know of to get help from people who have seen just about everything - PacaThis on Facebook. It was only a few minutes after posting that at least 3 people said it sounded like Listeriosis, also known as the "circling disease".

Symptoms I saw:

Circling in one direction
Inability to move or even turn in the opposite direction
Numbness in the face
Lack of blinking

Other Symptoms you might see:

Inability to get up
Not eating or drinking
Temps that go up and then go down
Leaning or resting against a fence or wall

Treatment per vet

Higher than normal dose of Penn-G (approx 3cc per 100#) every other day for at least 5 shots
Banamine (1cc per 100#) daily for 3-5 days This helps diminish any swelling in their brain
Thiamine (3cc for adult) at least 4x per day for several days, can give less after the first few days

Possible sources of the disease

It is caused by bacteria. This bacteria could be in the ground. In cattle, it can come from silage, but in alpacas perhaps moldy hay could be a source. It was also suggested to me that rodents could carry the disease. It's found to be unlikely that it will be passed from animal to animal.

It's been about 3 weeks since the onset of the Listeria and our girl is doing much better. After about 2 weeks of daily Thiamine, she was able too turn her head and body to the left. She has integrated back in with the herd and is doing well. Our case, I believe, was a mild or lucky one. The symptoms never got so bad that she was down or stopped eating. This is truly a testament on how well you need to know your animals and even the tiniest sign that something is wrong, could mean there is an issue. Know your animals, know their normal and question when things aren't as normal as usual.