Lep­tospiro­sis strain found in al­paca

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Rural - JILL GAL­LOWAY

A lep­tospiro­sis strain has been found in New Zealand al­paca for the first time.

The disease is a known dairy cow com­plaint, which is some­times passed on to dairy and abat­toir work­ers.

New find­ings that al­pacas are also vul­ner­a­ble to the disease were re­vealed at the In­ter­na­tional Lep­tospiro­sis So­ci­ety Con­fer­ence.at Palmer­ston North. In hu­mans it can ap­pear as a mi­nor flu-like sick­ness, but may put some peo­ple in in­ten­sive care at hos­pi­tal with last­ing kid­ney or liver dam­age.

Massey Univer­sity mem­ber of the Lep­tospiro­sis Re­search Group, Dr Julie Collins-Emer­son, said it was a sur­prise to re­searchers that a vet­eri­nar­ian test­ing a dog clear for the disease, found it in al­pacas at a neigh­bour­ing property.

She said lep­tospiro­sis was con­firmed in a breed­ing al­paca herd in Manawatu¯ .

Two young al­pacas died from the disease and 12 other preg­nant al­pacas aborted.

Re­searchers be­lieve only a few cases ex­ist in South Amer­ica of al­pacas found with lep­tospiro­sis.

Massey lep­tospiro­sis re­searcher, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Jackie Ben­schop said peo­ple were of­ten in close con­tact with al­pacas be­cause they liked to get close to them be­cause of their ap­pear­ance and they were of­ten on life­style prop­er­ties, with other live­stock such as kune kune pigs. She said other species could get lep­tospiro­sis and pass them on to peo­ple.

She said any mam­mal could get the disease, in­clud­ing rats, pigs as well as dairy cows.

Collins-Emer­son said there was grow­ing con­cern about the im­pact of the disease, which is zoonotic, which means it could cross over to hu­mans.

She said most dairy cows were vac­ci­nated, but there was a strain of the disease, com­mon in New Zealand, which was out­side the vac­ci­na­tion range.

She said dairy work­ers were more likely to be in­fected be­cause dairy cows were han­dled twice a day. The disease is usu­ally passed to hu­mans from the urine of in­fected an­i­mals.

Collins-Emer­son said beef cat­tle and sheep could have the disease, but be­cause they did not come into con­tact with hu­mans as of­ten, it was rarely passed on and be­cause lep­tospiro­sis had lit­tle im­pact on the an­i­mals, it of­ten went un­no­ticed.

Collins-Emer­son said farm­ers were more aware of lep­tospiro­sis.

Mem­bers of the Massey Univer­sity Lep­tospiro­sis Re­search Group (left) Neville Haack, Dr Jackie Ben­schop, Dr Julie CollinsEmer­son and Pro­fes­sor Cord Heuer.

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