Parasite Control

Note:

At present any medication used to treat and alpaca is called "off-label" this means that the medication has not yet been approved for the use on alpaca's

Parasites are common to all forms of livestock and alpacas are no exception. The parasites that they pick up are the same ones that are seen in sheep, goats and cows (ruminants) There are many forms of treatment from granules sprinkled on food, injections, drenches, pastes and oral medicines. Unfortunately no one medicine will cover all parasites that can affect an alpaca so a combination should be used.

Parasite control is based on maintaining parasite populations below which clinical signs are observed. It does not involve the complete elimination of all parasites from a herd for several reasons. A low level of parasites develops immunity in the animals, decreases drug resistance, saves money for the owner, and finally because complete elimination is impossible.

An animal exposed to parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc. develops specialized cells that are used to fight infections from these foreign organisms. Some produce life long immunity after a single exposure while others produce immunity for as little as several months. Low level repeated exposure to a foreign organism can stimulate the immune system to continue producing the specialized cells and thereby reduces the severity of infections in the future.

Drug resistance to anthelmintics (anti-parasite drugs) is becoming more common. Unfortunately these drugs are unable to completely eliminate an entire population of parasites. The few that remain are resistant to the drug and with time reproduce creating a new population that is also resistant. Anthelmintic resistance is very common in sheep and goats and increasing in alpacas and llamas. Resistance is encouraged with indiscriminate use of anthelmintics, shipping animals, open herds, and inadequate biosecurity. Anthelmintics should complement but not replace good management and sanitation practices.

 

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