Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FEBRUARY - The tragedies of B.V.D.

I now feel it is acceptable for me to me to discuss the tragedies that the alpaca breeders faced in Andalucia. Ginny Cobb has written an extremely long and informative article that has been printed in the Alpaca World magazine, therefore I feel that I can now discuss it.

Not everyone will want to read this, but I would like to share my thoughts with those of you that do.

Alan and I as most of you know are alpaca novices, we do not pretend to know very much about these gorgeous, inquisitive animals, but we are learning all the time. The nightmare for us began in June last year, when our beautiful Black Dancer first became ill. She self aborted her cria, and sadly died, all in the space of two weeks. We were of course devastated and questioned our abilities to look after these beautiful animals. Over the last few months we have been told that when our animals, plus animals for Nigel and Ginny Cobb were brought over from England, an animal in the herd was probably carrying the disease B.V.D. This is no ones fault as in England alpacas do not need to be blood tested for this, they are however tested for other diseases.

In the last seven months Nigel and Ginny, David and Di, and Alan and myself have all lost animals. Between us there were five top quality breeding females, ten babies, five late abortions, plus the heartbreaking decisions we had to make to induce eight abortions. Our dear friends Mike and Linda, had thankfully healthy animals, but they suffered so much stress as they saw what we were all going through, and fought to keep their animals and healthy as they possibly could.

B.V.D. stands for bovine viral diarrhoea. If an animal is suffering from B.V.D. it is susceptible to all other illnesses. During the dreadful months of the summer in 2008, blood tests were done on all the animals, and we were informed of which had shown positive for the antibodies. If this was a pregnant female, we then had to make the agonising decision as to terminate the pregnancy or not. I can only describe the affect on the unborn cria as being similar to a pregnant woman contracting rubella. If the unborn cria was infected it would become P.I. (persistently infectious). It would probably only live for a matter of weeks or months, but infect any other animal, in the herd, that had not got the positive antibodies. It was a fairly easy decision for Alan and I, and we chose to abort the unborn cria. We could not go through seeing an animal give birth, and then probably have to have the cria put to sleep, after blood tests a few weeks later.

We really thought the new year was the end of our problems in Spain when tragedy struck again. Nigel and Ginny’s favourite alpaca Ella became ill, and died. Ella was the type of animal that would entice anyone to breed alpacas. She had been hand reared and followed you about, willing to be stroked and cuddled. Not only was she the friendliest alpaca I have known, but she was also the Spanish champion, winning the title of Supreme Champion of Spain, an all round stunning beautiful alpaca.

This was only two weeks ago, and her necropsy showed that she had died from pneumonia due to B.V.D. This has taken it’s toll so badly on us all, our friends and alpaca breeders here in Andalucia. We have all shared in others others grief and I do hope that Nigel and Ginny find the strength, from somewhere to go on. During our difficult times they have always been there for Alan and I, either on the end of the phone, or Nigel driving up to us at top speed, to support us. Such wonderful friends!

Now the plans are being made for the return of our alpacas. No doubt our vet will be called out on many unnecessary visits, but I am sure he will understand. I have decided to include about the B.V.D in my blog to now, to try and help us move forward from here. I hope and pray all our alpaca owner friends have a wonderful year, from now on.

Our beautiful Black Dancer
Our gorgeous little Basil

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