email received 25th August 2011 from Dr Ruth Watkins BSc Hons, BFA Oxon, MBBS, MSc, MRCP, MRCPath
Disappointingly little epidemiology information is given in the letter published in the Veterinary Record (here) except to say the spoligotype infecting the alpaca was the local one - I presume local in badgers and cattle.
No information was given as to whether the alpaca had spent all her life on that farm, whether there were other alpaca cases on that farm, whether there were cattle on that farm or on neighbouring farms in contact over the fence nose to nose, and whether any cattle had had TB on that farm or contiguous farms.
I am not sure why the death of the young cria of the previous year had not been investigated when the alpaca received veterinary attention, or why the vet did not do a culture of the mammary lesion and TB testing on the alpaca.
Of course in veterinary medicine the owners are responsible for testing as they must pay for every investigation and veterinary attention other than the statutory testing of their flock for TB.
Alpaca owners must dread finding they have a case of TB amongst their Alpaca herd.
Was this alpaca part of a herd and have they been tested and what were the findings?
Also the letter does not give any information on what the vet or owners should do about finding out if they have M bovis exposure and infection, whether it be cutaneous or pulmonary.
It would be helpful if this important problem was presented as a detailed case report covering all aspects, with perhaps a panel of opinions from relevant experts.
August 25th 2011 ~ "...implications for potential disease spread and zoonotic risk to owners and animal handlers, including veterinarians."
A letter in the Veterinary Record this week. Extract:
"... In the majority of cases of TB in alpacas, the source of infection is thought to be spillover of infection from other animals such as cattle and wildlife. ......... The owners and attending veterinary surgeon involved in this case had regularly flushed the discharging lesion, possibly creating bacterial aerosols. We would urge colleagues to be aware of the potential of TB in udder lesions of alpacas, and to consider the associated risk involved in the treatment of such lesions."Read letter in full. (Thanks are due to Dianne Summers for the link)