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Preventable disease protection

Preventable disease protection - are your llamas covered?
Clostridial infections in llamas are known to be a cause of very unpleasant and
rapidly fatal disease. These infections progress very quickly and so the casualties
may be found already dead or dying. Unfortunately even intensive treatment with
antibiotics is rarely effective. Clostridial bacteria are ubiquitous and produce
spores, which persist for long periods in the soil making some pastures particularly
hazardous. Disturbing the soil can bring old buried spores back up to the surface,
so activities such as ploughing and trenching for land drains, or even fresh mole
hills can make the pasture dangerous again. Disease outbreaks are
often precipitated by 'trigger factors', ranging from changes in management to
parasitic activity or traumatic damage to organs, so healthy llamas in good
condition will be less vulnerable. The good news is that vaccines are readily
available and can provide effective protection against most forms of clostridial
disease encountered in the UK. TWO injections, at least four to six weeks apart,
are required initially. Thereafter, the vaccinated animals, including adults,
require booster injections every twelve months. If you let protection lapse by
missing an annual injection then you would need to give the two injections four to
six weeks apart again. Breeding females should be vaccinated four weeks
before calving to ensure their colostrum contains high levels of antibodies to
protect the newborn cria. Failure to vaccinate our livestock would raise concerns
that losses due to clostridial disease might reach the same high levels that existed

in the UK before a vaccine was available. Llamas that are pastured with sheep and
other livestock are at higher risk of exposure to clostridial disease, particularly if
those sheep are also unvaccinated.

There are several vaccines to choose from, including Covexin, Heptovac and
Lambivac. Heptovac vaccinates against eight strains of clostridial species, as does
Covexin 8. Lambivac however only vaccinates against the four main clostridial
species but some vets consider that it gives better protection against these four
most common and most deadly types than the eight-way vaccines do, even though
these offer a wider coverage of more species. The thinking is that the llama can
mount a better immune response to the four strains if it is not being challenged to
produce antibodies to combat all eight strains at the same time. If you are unsure
which way to go it‘s best to discuss it with your vet. If you acquire llamas that are
up to date with Covexin or Heptovac but you prefer to use Lambivac, you
can simply switch to Lambivac when the next annual injection is due. If you
acquire llamas previously protected with Lambivac but you want the eight-way
protection, then you would need to give the two jabs of Covexin or Heptovac four
to six weeks apart to create immunity to the additional strains.

Spring Grass!
It‘s that time of year again and with the first flush of spring grass that parasite
called Nematodirus leaps into life too! Now is a good time to submit poo samples
to your vet or to the lab to check worm counts and treat accordingly! Talk to your
vet about the correct dosing for camelids and how best to vary the type of wormer
you use in order to avoid the parasites developing a resistance.

8 May 2015