Camelid TB Support & Research Group
For help and support
Help and Support for those affected by Bovine TB in Alpacas & Llamas
Thanks to over 30 members of the TB Support Group who have given their data and experiences of bTB in their herds. It is from the information gathered from the data provided by these members that has produced much of the advice contained on this website. Thank you. Also thanks to senior members of DEFRA/AH/and the VLA for working closely with the TB Support group. It is a relationship very much appreciated by us all.
Welcome to the TB in Alpacas & Llamas Website
No images, data or any part of this website may be used for commercial purposes. Advice and information on this website is given in good faith. It is essential that you consult your Vet and/or AHO before making any decisions on diagnosis or treatment of your animals. We make every effort to keep official documentation up to date but where guidance is given on official policies, please bear in mind they may have changed so you MUST check and confirm current policy and procedures with DEFRA/AH. Advice and updates will be posted as and when information becomes available to us.
Do your alpacas live in, or come from
a high bTB risk area?
Pre movement testing is available -
Click on the map above to visit the Defra interactive bTB map. You can enter your location (or the location of herds that you have contact with) by postcode and zoom in or out to see the prevalence of bTB in your area or the area where you are buying from, obtaining matings from or agisting your alpacas. Use the information to make your own informed choices and assess the risk to your herd.
APHA data shows that at the end of quarter four 2020 there were 84 camelid premises under restrictions for bTB. Click here to visit Defra site.
Tests are available to help protect your herd -
The support group was started in response to many herds facing bTB breakdowns with no way out. The only test available at the time, the comparative skin test, reported a high number of false negatives, which although allowing herds to 'go clear', it often left hidden disease behind only to re-
Initially, the Support Group took a combative stance with some parts of Government, with an initial goal of getting them to accept that the skin test did not work in camelids, and to accept that bTB was a serious and growing problem in alpacas and llamas. It took years before it became accepted that the skin test is at best 15% sensitive, in practice probably less. Defra now accept that the skin test is very poor at detecting disease if present.
In 2014 new blood tests were made available for herds outside of a breakdown. This followed research part funded by the three camelid societies. Key to this research were the volunteer herds from perceived TB free areas, who agreed to have their animals blood tested, sacrificing some of these animals for the cause. The tests that emerged are fully validated for use in camelids.
Outside of a breakdown as a voluntary test, blood tests can be applied in different ways which will give differing sensitivity (ability to find the disease). Used on their own, the sensitivity is just over 50% -
Another change was the compulsion to test (previously herds could refuse to engage with Defra) which meant that herds with ongoing bTB no longer repeatedly re-
An issue with testing is that the better a test is at detecting disease, the less some alpaca owners seem to believe it. A test that only detects advanced disease is of no use, as by then the disease is likely to have spread within the herd or to other herds, wildlife, livestock or people. A 'perfect' test would detect the disease perhaps years before it went on to develop, so on post mortem there would be nothing to see -
The prospect of vaccination is on the horizon, but could be years away yet, and will it be offered to camelids? Will it work in camelids? There is unlikely to be extensive research unless the camelid community pays for it. If it is rolled out, presumably it will be many years before animals with existing TB will die out of the national herd, and what will the level of uptake be? In humans, according to the NHS website, "the BCG vaccination is thought to protect up to 80% of people against the most severe forms of TB for at least 15 years".
BTB in Camelids 2021 -