Sunday, August 29, 2004


Bad News: West Nile Virus is a very real threat to alpacas.
Good news: Camelids can be protected by a series of vaccinations.

Ohio State University and Oregon State University have both done extensive studies with an equine WNV vaccination and found it to be effective in camelids. Their studies showed a series of three shots will provide protection against WNV infected mosquitoes. The study results can be read here:

Something worth noting: Several WNV vaccination serums are on the market. If your animals are vaccinated using one serum, all booster shots must be given using that same one. If for some reason you have to switch to a different vaccination serum, all animals must start from ground zero and begin inoculations all over. Make careful notes in your vaccination documentation which vaccination you or your vet is using.

Today we spent time giving the young boys and the young girls their second WNV vaccination. It's days like today when you really appreciate a well designed ranch. The girls and boys are in the front of the ranch. The boys are at the end. The girls are next to the boys but there's a catch pen in between the two with gates from both paddocks leading into the catch pen. We had to first round up the boys into the catch pen. Easy. Just open their gate and they run right in. Could it be that they know they'll be closer to the girls? :-) Close the catch pen gate. Next, we caught a boy, haltered him, I held him while Wayne vaccinated him, and finally I released him back into his own paddock. Same routine for the girls.

Sometimes they are less eager to go into the catch pen so I use a long PVC pole (probably 12 feet long) held at waist height to guide them where I want them to go. We have also on occasion used a long flat woven rope with one person holding each end. I prefer the pole because I can do it myself. Alpacas rarely challenge barriers (they'd rather flee to an open space like through an open gate), so they never come in contact with the pole or rope.

Halters aren't always necessary for these vaccinations. We used them today because most everyone was a bit on the feisty side. It is simply safer for them if they are haltered and tied up even though you have one person holding the animal while the other innoculates. For the truly feisty ones, we can walk them back to the barn and use the chute. It contains them very well. Thankfully, we didn't need to do that for anyone today.


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