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 1. Alpacas 101: Getting Started
 young alpaca sudden death
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8 Posts

Posted - 07/18/2009 :  3:35:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A few days ago we found one of our young girls (she had just turned two) dead in the pasture. We brought her in for the vet to examine to determine a cause. By the time the vet examined her the next morning she had a pinkish foam coming out her mouth. The vet found fluid in both lungs and clots in her heart. The vet said the heart and lungs did not look right. She ruled out bacterial infection/pnemonia. She said the alpaca was not dehydrated, she had food in her belly, fat layers and looked like a healthy animal. We had not seen any behavior to concern us. She was eating and running and playing with the other girls. We have had tissue samples sent in to a lab to see if it will tell us anything else, if it is hereditary. Has anyone ever had this happen? It is not something you read about and I have found very little information on the net.


782 Posts

Posted - 07/18/2009 :  3:52:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit Koehlers's Homepage  Send Koehlers a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. I know there are no words to take away the pain and disbelief of what has happened.
I truly hope that they find something to determine what happened to your girl.
My heart goes out to you.

Tracey Koehler
Koehlers 4 Star Alpacas
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3204 Posts

Posted - 07/18/2009 :  4:52:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm so sorry for your loss. Cardiac pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) can result from valve problems, diseases of the heart, shock and other causes. Abnormal blood flow in the heart can also result in clots as well as fluid in the lungs.

It is possible that this girl had a problem with the valves in her heart that had not posed a problem until there was a sudden failure. Did she ever have a murmur when she was younger? Did the vet dissect the heart? It sounds like an evaluation of the gross morphology would be in order. What exactly did your vet mean by saying the heart and lungs looked funny?

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
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571 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2009 :  07:40:33 AM  Show Profile  Visit klay.k's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Lyndsay, I am so sorry. I know from personal experience the shock and utter frustration of the "not knowing" but we did get an answer.

Don't rule out trauma. We lost a 7 month old female to a broken back. No outward signs except a bit of pink foam at the muzzle.

I know it's difficult but if you'd like to talk, give me a call. Kathy

Kathy & Earl Klay
Jefferson Laurel Farm
8181 Havens Road
Blacklick, Ohio 43004
HM (614) 855-9194
CELL (614) 439-6619
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4103 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2009 :  08:58:33 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I suspect the pink foam you are mentioning is a natural aspect of the corpse eliminating fluids, since I've also seen it after the death of alpacas from known/understandable causes (in one instance a male was euthanized after an unsuccessful attempt to intervene in a bladder blockage, and the other was an accidental death resulting from a trauma). Soon after death, the body begins to release all sorts of interesting phenomena. The fluid is probably not symptomatic of anything in particular, unless what you're describing is something different from what I've seen.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
LadySong Suris
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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8 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2009 :  5:24:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We received the lab results from the samples the vet sent in. Unfortunately, they were "inconclusive", so we don't have any further answers (other than the vet's examination) on why our girl suddenly died. When it first happened I was so shocked I kept trying to find answers. The farm we bought her from was not aware of any heart conditions, and the vet did not dissect the heart. So we may never know what caused it. Thankfully it is not something we need to worry the others could catch or eat. Thank you to those who responded with their sympathy and shared their experiences.
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1475 Posts

Posted - 08/03/2009 :  9:07:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit janechristie's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Lyndsay,

Sorry to hear of your loss - it is always a shock when something like this happens.

We did lose an apparently healthy one year old male in good body condition to pulmonary embolism. The necropsy results did not identify a major blood vessel that burst into the lungs, although his windpipe was full of foam, and his lungs contained fluid and dark staining. Our daughter happened to be in the barn when he suddenly started coughing, spat out his cud, and dropped to the floor convulsing. She ran to fetch us, and by the time we got down to the barn, less than 3 minutes later, he was dead.

Sadly, without that observation, we would never have known what killed him. Our vet realised what it was as soon as we described what had happened. Just like people, alpacas can have a weakness in their vascular systems, that is like a ticking timebomb waiting to go off. The only consolation is that it was over really fast, so he did not suffer for long.

Ph: (804)-784-4837 Fax: (804)-784-4839

Edited by - janechristie on 08/03/2009 10:13:33 PM
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