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Lice are small, flat-bodied insects with legs developed for grasping fiber. Lice can cause significant irritation for camelids, causing them to bite, scratch, and rub. There are two types of lice known as sucking and biting lice. Symptoms are identical and include itching, restlessness, hair loss, and poor growth. Diagnosis can be made the same for both types of lice and includes a direct observation of the hair, especially along the dorsal midline and rump.
These have relatively small narrow heads designed piercing the skin and sucking blood. In large numbers they can cause anaemia.
Biting lice have larger rounder heads. They feed on skin debris, blood and scabs. Despite being apparently less invasive than sucking lice, it is biting lice that produce the most severe irritation.
The eggs (also known as nits) of both types are glued to individual fibers and hatch in about 14 days. The nymphs (immature stages) resemble the adults but are smaller. The nymphs mature in about three weeks. Once the adult stage is reached, lice can live two to three weeks and the females will lay about one egg per day.
Camelids with a lice infestation will show signs of rubbing, raw skin, fiber loss, biting, and scratching. They may cause damage to fences, yards or trees that they use as rubbing posts. Lice can be an important cause of economic loss when camelids are in poor condition or if infestations are heavy.
Insecticides can be used to treat infected animals. However they may not be as effective on louse eggs. This means that after treatment, eggs can still hatch and continue the infestation. With some insecticides, a follow-up treatment 2–3 weeks later is necessary. This time interval is critical to achieve control, as it allows time for the eggs to hatch but not to mature into adults which will lay eggs themselves. Different treatments and preventative measures are available including pour-ons, sprays, ear-tags or injection as well as basic bio-security to prevent outbreaks.
Contact Triple Oaks for simple prevention and vaccination protocols.
The liver fluke (Fasciola hepatic) is a parasite which affects a range of livestock. Grazing camelids, cattle, sheep, and deer are a few of the mammals who are susceptible to the liver fluke. Herds grazing on low, wet areas are held at higher risk.
Liver flukes costs millions of dollars each year in lost production, stock deaths, and costs of treatment. Most of the economic cost is associated with production losses from infection.
In infected livestock, adult flukes produce eggs within the bile ducts of the liver. These eggs flow within the bile to the intestine. There, the eggs are passed through the digestive tract with the feces. Once passed, the eggs hatch in wet areas on the pasture. Fluke larvae are ingested by snails which are the intermediate hosts. Once inside the snail, larvae develop and multiply thousands of times. The replicated, tadpole-like larvae leave the snails and encyst on vegetation. This is the infective stage of liver fluke.
This is the point where the larvae is ingested by grazing animals. The young flukes penetrate the intestinal wall, make their way to the liver, and then migrate through the liver tissue for 6–7 weeks before entering the bile ducts to become adults. Camelids are a "dead end host" for liver flukes. Only deer will pass fluke eggs in their feces. This means infected camelids cannot infect other camelids, but animals grazing on the same pastures will ingest the fluke larvae deposited from deer.
Disease can occur due to haemorrhage and tissue damage from migrating immature fluke and from damage to bile ducts and blood loss due to adult flukes. Some symptoms include anaemia, jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, reduced growth rate, reduced milk production, reduced fertility, and death.
Prevention through pasture rotation can be effective against flukes, as this prevents grazing down to the snail habitat. If possible, keep animals from grazing on wet areas such as pond margins, river banks and marshy ground. An appropriate deworming regime is also very effective. Contact Triple Oaks for simple prevention and vaccination programs. Treatments are available for animals already infected. Effectiveness depends on a quickly administering the drugs after a positive diagnosis.
Strongyles are one of the most common types of parasites shared through many species. Camelids pastured with sheep or goats have a higher risk of infection. Strongyles can cause poor growth, weight loss, diarrhea, anemia, lethargy, poor appetite, and in severe cases, death. The lifecycle for strongyles is fairly basic, making infections extremely easy for animals kept together. Strongyle eggs pass through the digestive tract of an infected animal with the feces. Once in the soil, the eggs hatch and develop into larvae that is able to infect other animals. When animals graze on infected pasture or drink contaminated water they can become infected. Strongyles are excellent as surviving the winter and can lie dormant as an egg without hatching for over a year if conditions are not favorable for larvae to survive.
Because of the hardiness of strongyles, it is near impossible to eradicate them from your pastures. However, good management practices can keep the parasite under control and your animals healthy. Pasture rotations, feeding away from manure piles and removing manure will all help in parasite control. Strongyles can be very resistant to current dewormer so running fecal tests before administering dewormer is very practical and can be beneficial for your herd. Contact Dr. Matt for a personalized deworming schedule for your herd.
The same species of tapeworms that affect camelids also affect sheep, goats, cattle, and deer. If you own different species of livestock, be prepared for some cross contamination of parasites. Tapeworms live in the intestines of ruminants and can reach up to 60 cm in length. Severe infections can cause problems such as poor growth, diarrhea, weight loss, depression and failure to thrive. Infections in young camelids tend to be more serious as it can affect their growth rate and ability to thrive.
Tapeworm eggs are passed through the digestive tract with the feces. Once outside the body, the eggs hatch and the larvae are eaten by mites. These mites are found everywhere and are often consumed by livestock. When an infected mite is ingested the immature worm is freed. The parasite attaches to the intestinal lining and body segments being to develop. The life cycle from egg to egg producing adult takes about 40 days. Adult worms can grow over 60 centimeters in length and can live for four months.
Only dewormers with Praziquantil or Fenbendazole will kill tape worms. If you suspect a tapeworm infection, contact Dr. Matt for a personalized prevention and treatment plan for your animals.
There is no universal deworming program available for all alpacas and no deworming product is 100% effective. However, deworming your alpacas is critical to their well being and health. Determining which parasites your animal has (via fecal egg counts) and specifically targeting those species is the best way to treat infections and prevent parasite resistance. Your deworming program will closely depend on the climate and weather present in your area. Climate dictates the types of parasites present, while seasonal weather determines the severity of the problem.
While there are many deworming products on the market, not all products treat every type of parasite... and parasites are becoming very resistant to the products currently available. Prevention is the key to intestinal parasite control. Overcrowding and poor sanitation should be addressed to overcome infestations and to minimize the potential for reinfection. Parasite control programs should rely heavily on good management practices and a close relationship with your veterinarian. Contact Triple Oaks to set up an effective, individualized parasite control program today!
Triple Oaks Equine & Bovine RLLP
Mites, although very tiny, can cause big problems in camelid herds. Animals with mites often acquire mange, a treatable skin condition similar to alopecia on their legs, face, neck, and other areas. Mange generally begins with red, itching, and thickened skin at the site of hair loss. The skin may create puss pockets, similar in appearance to acne. There are two types of mites that affect our animals:
Sarcoptic mites are known as burrowing mites because the females burrow under the skin to lay her eggs. This mite is of special importance as it is zoonotic, meaning it is not host specific and can transfer to other animals or humans and causes a condition known as scabies. These mites are often seen on the legs, belly and under the tail. Since these mites are burrowing, an injectable treatment with ivermectin is required to ensure eradication.
Chorioptic mites are known as surface mites since they spend their lives above the surface of the skin. These mites are often found between the toes, in the ears, on the face, and sporadically over the body. Chorioptic mites are not zoonotic, but can infect other animals of the same species living together.
Diagnosis of mites requires a scrape test - rubbing a blade edge over the infected area and depositing the contents onto a slide for observation under a microscope. This test will determine the type of mite and the appropriate treatment to rid your herd of mites. After treating your animals, a deep cleaning is required to help reduce the risk of reinfection. This includes removal of bedding, disinfecting walls, floors, water buckets, feed troughs, brushes, halters, leads, etc...
If left untreated, mites can expose your animals to bacterial and fungal infections which can lead to secondary infections from a stressed and compromised immune system. Contact Dr. Matt for a personalized treatment program for your herd.
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Although whipworms, also known as barber pole worms, are gut worms, they attach to the inner intestine lining and suck blood to get their nutrition. The parasite has a tooth-like structure equipped for scraping the tissues of the intestine to cause bleeding. Large infections of these parasites can be incredibly dangerous. The worms can reproduce in only three weeks and can literally bleed an animal out on the inside, you'll never see the hemorrhage. These parasites can be especially dangerous due to their rapid life cycle, blood sucking ability, rapid spread and increasing resistance to worming medications.
Symptoms of whipworms include poor growth, diarrhea, and anemia. Due to their increasing resistance to current deworming methods, fecal tests are encouraged to diagnose infection. Contact Dr. Matt for a personalized deworming prevention or treatment plan.
Meningeal worms, also known as brain worms, are a threat to camelids anywhere there are whitetail deer. Deer are host to these parasites, but are immune to their destruction. However, they pass meningeal eggs through with their feces. If these feces land in low land or anywhere wet, the eggs are intercepted by snails or slugs. The eggs hatch and develop into infective larvae inside these intermediate hosts. When a camelid ingests infective snails or their excrements they become infected. The larvae travel from the stomach to the gray matter of the brain or spinal column. This migration can cause paralysis or death to the animal.
Once a camelid is infected they are a 'dead end' host. Meaning the parasite can only produce eggs in a whitetail deer, any other animal with meningeal worms will show symptoms but cannot pass the infection to other animals. However, if one animal in a herd has a meningeal worm, other animals are at risk from a pasture contaminated by deer.
Symptoms of meningeal worms can occur in what seems like overnight. neurological signs include but are not limited to: rear leg weakness, lameness, incoordination, ataxia, depression, head tilting, and blindness. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment necessary. Prevention for meningeal worm includes fencing away from low, swampy areas, and using deer proof fencing and rock barriers. Contact Dr. Matt to if you suspect your animal has a meningeal worm or to set up a prevention plan for your herd.
Coccidia is not a bacteria, it is a single-celled parasite (known as a protozoa) which lives in the soil. Coccidia causes coccidiosis, a disease of the intestines which causes damage to the cells lining the intestine resulting in diarrhea. Coccidia is in the soil, in the water, basically everywhere. We will never be able to get rid of coccidia, so exposure to coccidia is actually beneficial to our animals as it helps build tolerance and potential immunity to coccidiosis. This is not to say that coccidiosis is not a serious disease. It is a disease that should not be underestimated, especially in young animals, and in many cases proves fatal.
There are four types of coccidia affecting alpacas, however the deadliest is Eimeria macusaniensis, commonly called Emac, is a type of coccidia seen specifically in alpacas. Emac has the potential to cause disease and death in young and adult alpacas. It can be difficult to diagnose, but if coccidiosis is suspected, Emac should be ruled out as quickly as possible.
Coccidiosis is particularly common in young animals under one year of age, although it can occur in older animals. Young crias become infected when living in environments contaminated by older animals, or other infected crias. Coccidial eggs require warmth and moisture to become infective, this commonly happens indoors on bedding or outdoors around feeding or drinking troughs. Poor health, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, and high stocking density will all contribute to a calf picking up the parasites and acquiring the disease.
Symptoms are not always specific to coccidiosis, however common signs are:
Good management and proper hygiene is vital to achieve effective control of coccidia. Young animals should be kept clean and dry; feeding and watering equipment should be cleaned regularly. Avoid feeding animals on the ground to prevent manure from contaminating the feed. Pens with excessive moisture should be drained. Try to keep grazing to a minimum in areas where alpacas congregate (by the waterer) and avoid forcing animals to graze down the roots of plants to reduce the number of parasites consumed. If possible, infected animals should be quarantined to avoid exposure to other alpacas. Contact Dr. Matt to learn more or to set up a prevention plan.