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 2. Alpaca Healthcare & Nutrition
 Meningeal worm?
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Hampton Farm

1 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2016 :  7:05:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
New to the alpaca world last year but did my research for several years.

Just over a week ago one of our healthy 5 year old females was found cushed in the barn unable to get up. She would push herself onto her front legs but her back legs showed obvious weakness. Vet came out and suspected m. worm. Treated her for 5 days with high doses of ivomec, safeguard, thiamibe, anti inflammatory and pain meds but no change. Last two days we gave steroid injections but still she can't get up. She's alert and head held high, eating and drinking but defecate where she's cushed and i've been cleaning her up several times a day.

Vet suspects permanent damage and is recommending euthanasia. She doesn't seem to be suffering and I've been reading about slinging alpacas and llamas to regain muscle strength. We have a shearing table but aren't prepared to spend the few grand it would cost to buy a sling but I'm confident I can rig something up.

Has anyone had experience bringing an animal back from this long being down? Is it worth giving it a shot or should I defer to my vet? She's a sweet girl and I'd hate to give up on her.


4103 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2016 :  12:29:19 PM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Were there any symptoms prior to her going down? Usually, the parasite does minor nerve damage as it migrates to the blood/brain barrier, and there may be ataxia or lameness over the course of several weeks. However, occasionally, a parasite makes its penetration of the BBB so quickly that there are no prior symptoms.

It certainly sounds as though it could be m-worm. I wish you hadn't included ivermectin in your treatment protocol - it can do more damage once the parasite has penetrated the BBB. Unfortunately, once they're down and can't rise, it becomes nearly impossible to bring them back. Slinging is possible, but difficult, and involves regular physiotherapy while the nerves heal. You'd need a great deal of patience, daily medications including thiamine, Vitamins and special supplements to help maintain condition, and physiotherapy to remediate loss of muscle tone and repair damaged nerves, and lots of luck. If you are in cold-weather clime, she could be very uncomfortable in the sling since she wouldn't be able to move about to keep warm. You might add a blanket, and a heat lamp nearby to help, but again would need constant vigilance to be sure she isn't overheating either. I'm sorry that your girl is down.

Judith Korff
LadySong Farm
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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Mara DeBoe

110 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2016 :  6:28:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We recently had a girl down and unable to get up, due to an injury to a front shoulder or something. She could get her rear end up, but crawled on her front knees. (Luckily) we found that if she was on her right side she could not push up into the cush position, and thus was stuck there. But once cushed, she would try to get up, making things worse.

The first few days, we would help her stand from the cush position and stabilize her by supporting her chest, about 10 minutes only a few times a day. She was supporting maybe 50% of her weight.

We tried building "stocks" out of hay bales. Once she was up and standing, we slid a bale under her chest, and stacked two on each side of her, and two in front and in back - blocking her in. Maybe 10-15 minutes in that too - she would get antsy.

We tried making a sling using a canvas tarp and a horse breast collar, but the result was not good. But if we really had wanted to put some work into that, we could have made it work (but it would have required punching holes in the canvas, and adding loops and clips to the breast collar.

We considered contacting (but didn't) the alpaca farms and even llama farms near us to see if they had a sling.

We ended up just manually supporting her most of the time, whenever we had the chance to go down to the barn. After about two weeks she was able to get up on her own regularly.

Good luck. We had one with meningeal once, but we caught it before she was down.

Mark & Mara DeBoe
Wibotawot Farm
River Falls, WI
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