Monday, July 02, 2007

Disaster Averted

The herdsire we picked up in Georgia and then had to leave in Ohio because we didn't have enough room in the trailer, Symphony, arrived via transport a week and a half ago. He is a beautiful black boy, and especially good looking for his age (8) and we think he'll make a very nice herdsire. We had him quarantined, across the barn from the other boys, which he was pretty stressed about.

My cousin Laura from "the Van" and her friend, Abby, were visiting for a couple nights over the weekend. When we got down to look at the boys, Abby noticed Symphony was walking funny, kind of limping. We took a close look but couldn't find anything, and decided to put him in a small pen for the night hoping the restricted movement would help him heal.

In the morning he was noticeably worse. It was obvious to me that we had misdiagnosed this as a foot/leg problem, but now it was obviously a hip/abdomen problem. I thought maybe a bowel problem, although we hadn't noticed problems in his feces.

I called the vet (Sunday morning) and he was no help. Thought he might get there after church and before his Lions club picnic, but wasn't sure! By 10am we were sure Symphony wasn't going to wait another day for the vet. I began calling alpaca people that might have suggestions and ended up calling the ranch in Ohio he had spent the month at (The Alpacarosa). They are a wealth of knowledge about alpacas! I didn't even have to finish the story before she knew what it was and emailed the treatment. Called the vet again and he agreed to meet us an hour later at his office to give us the drugs we needed, so by 1:00 we had given him the first dose of pretty serious medications required for the next 5 days.

What he had is a parasite called Meningeal Worm, that is so small that it gets into your spine and causes nerve damage to the end of the spine and works it's way up into the brain, killing the animal. It is very common in Alpacas and Llamas in Georgia, and Ohio. Very difficult to diagnose and generally by the time you know what it is, it is fatal. If suspected you should treat immediately. We apparently caught it way early in him and he is well on his way to recovery now He may have a gimpy leg for the rest of is life, but otherwise should be fine and still a good breeder. This parasite requires a weird combination of having to be introduced into a pasture by a white tailed deer (in its feces) and then picked up by a snail and then eaten by an alpaca, then 40 days later you will see symptoms. We don't have this parasite in Colorado because it is not wet enough to have many snails. So even if the vet had come out he probably would have missed it.

Anyhow the stars must have aligned. We feel very lucky!

Otherwise June has been relatively uneventful. Kelsey and Sara are up for the summer, we are enjoying the ranch, playing with fleece, taking care of the animals, making small improvements to the house and barns daily. Token, our girl in Idaho has had trouble getting bred and we almost planned a trip to go get her, so we could figure out what was wrong, but the night before we left she bred... so with a sigh of relief (on many counts) we canceled that trip and stayed home for more "ranch time".


  1. Jackie10:06 PM

    I know nothing about alpacas, but I agree that Symphony is one good-looking dude! So glad the stars were in alignment in this case. Here's hoping that there is little to no permanent damage.

    Best wishes,

  2. Anonymous3:32 PM

    Dear Phyllis,
    glad to know Simphony has overcame its disease. Glad for him and for you!
    So, how are you all doing? Is Mike working as usual - a lot? How are you and your other jobs? Have you heard from Nancy's girl? How is she doing? How are you parents? Say hi to them for me.
    I keep in my mind and heart all the good times we spent together in your ranch (excluding the water!) and in Albuquerque and Los Alamos.
    You will always be in my thoughts and heart.