Alpaca Nutrition News
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion
amongst alpaca producers about a disease unaffectionately called "Snots". This
disease is highly contagious, especially to stressed alpaca, and is often
lethal. It resembles a disease in cats known as Rhinotracheitis, a viral
disorder that is also highly contagious, but usually only fatal to the old and
young. It caused congestion of the upper digestive tract, usually accompanied by
sneezing of globs of not of various sizes. Rhino is not curable, and because it
is viral, antibiotics only work while they are being administered.
I was unable to discern whether Snots is a
viral or bacterial disease. The fact that some alpaca were able to recover
suggests it may be bacterial. Either way, there are things the alpaca producer
an do to avoid this disease.
Prevention is almost always cheaper and less
stressful on humans and animals alike, than treatment. If taking animals to a
show, where unfamiliar alpacas come in contact and the stress level is high, use
MSE paste or drench for a few days before traveling, during the show, and for a
few days after. The alpaca that was exposed to unfamiliar animals should be
quarantined for a month to make sure they do not develop symptoms.
Yes, flies feed on the quarantined animal as
well as the rest of the herd, but many communicable diseases need actual contact
or proximity to be transmitted. These pathogens do not survive very long outside
of the host, and exposure to sunlight and the elements is often enough to kill
them. If unable to quarantine or concerned about transmission by flies, make
sure the rest of the herd gets MSE preventatively. Use of diatomaceous earth
(DE) on poop piles and in the barn will also decrease the number of flies on the
MSE increases immune response, not just
because microbes present a physical barrier to opportunistic pathogens, which
are always passing through. It increases the production of the important
immunoglobulin, IgG. MSE paste also contains pectin, which increases both IgG
and IgA. Stress makes animals move vulnerable to disease, and showing is
If Snots is viral, antibiotics will actually
weaken the alpaca further. Antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria and punch holes
in the gastrointestinal protective barrier that is the immune system's first
line of defense.
If, despite these precautions, the alpaca
develops Snots, give an increased dose of MSE drench or paste at the first sign
of illness. MSE can help the immune system fight the pathogen, and provide
energy for a stronger, and longer-lasting offensive.
Animals that were sick, seem to recover, and
then are found dead may have suffered extreme rumen disruption. The ingestion of
large amounts of feed after a lengthy period of abstinence can cause rumen
overload. Gradually increase the amount of feed to allow the rumen to recover.
This can be promoted by also giving MSE paste or drench.
Exposure to unfamiliar alpacas, especially
when stressed, is a recipe for disaster. The unfamiliar animals do not have to
be at a show, they can be at another farm where the alpaca is taken to breed or
agist. Transportation and any change in location can cause stress. Stress opens
the door to disease.
MSE paste and drench is available at
www.naturs-way.com. Please contact Lark
Burnham, Ph.D. with any questions or concerns,