Sunday, February 24, 2008


We have the preliminary report from Michigan State University. The short version is that Remington was too sick to travel. He reportedly had abcesses in his lung and liver and mesentery (the covering of the intestines). In addition to fluid in his abdominal cavity. He tested positive to Coccidial Oocysts. The type of coccidia appeared to be Eimeria Puneonesis. They took additional tissue for culture, those results are not available yet.

I did some research on Coccidail Oocysts. More information can be found at:
It is a single cell organism that works similar to worms but is not a worm. The cell takes home in the intestines where it releases sporozoites and multiplies in the intestinal cells. This then causes intestinal problems in the animal including diarrhea and possibly bloody stool. Often small animals become dehydrated. It is passes through fecal matter from an infected animal.

There are several different strains of Coccidia. The report indicates this one to be Eimeria punoensis. I could not find much information on the web about this strain in alpacas specifically. Though I did find an older post on alpaca nation regarding this:

“The type of coccidia alpacas get is eimeria. There are different strains of eimeria, stiedai, stizostedioni, punoensis, macusaniensis and a bunch of others.
E-mac is used because none of us can spell eimeria macusaniensis.
If a vet told any client that their alpaca had eimeria punoensis the owner would be certain it was fatal, so the vet will say coccidia.”

I tried to post a scanned version of the nescrospy report here but it was not the right kind of file to upload here (I am not computer literate enough, sorry!). I can type in part of the report. Though I will warn you it is medical in nature and I had to have J translate a lot of it for me (so much for all those anatomy classes I took).

Gross Description
The body of a 2.5 year old, 65.5 kg, intact, male, Alpaca of adequate nutritional and hydration states was examined. Autolysis was minimal to mild. The lungs were bilaterally and diffusely dark red to purple, wet and heavy. The left lung lobe had areas of linear, pale, tan, mottling throughout. The right lung lobe appeared most affected, with long dense strands of fibrin over the pleural surface. Also, multiple firm nodules were palpated throughout the parenchyma of the left lobe. On cut sections, the nodules had a dense pale tan fibrous capsule contained clotted blood, necrotic debris, and purulent material. These changes were not observed in the lesser affected left lung lobe. The mediastinal lymph node was markedly enlarged. The abdominal cavity contained approximately 1 liter of hazy, watery, red tinged, fluid. The liver had approximately 10-20, variably sized, transparent, fluctuant, and pedunculated structures that were attached to the capsular surface. On cut section, the structures contained dark brown to green necrotic debris and small amounts of pale yellow to white granular purulent material. The mesentery contained approximately 5-10 random, dark brown to black nodules, surrounded by dense fibrous tissue and filled with purulent material (similar to that observed in the lung and on the capsular surface of the liver). There were no other significant gross findings observed.

Gross Diagnosis
Lung: Severe (unilateral) fibrinous pleuritis with multifocal chronic pulmonary abcess formation
Liver: Severe chronic diffuse capsulitis with multifocal abcess formation
Mesentery: Chronic multifocal mesentery abscess formation
Mediastinal lymph node: lymphadenomegaly

The lung changes observed were severe and chronic and predominantly isolated to the right lung lobe. These findings (including the liver and mesentery) are most suggestive of a systemic bacteremia/septicemic process with multi organ seeding and subsequent abscess formation. These lesions, combined with the stress of transport, may account for this animal's sudden death. Histopathology and additional laboratory tests are currently in progress. The findings will be reported in a forthcoming final report as soon as results are available.

My own comments:
While some of that report sounds pretty bad, keep in mind that alpacas are very stoic animals. They do not let on that they are ill, until it is really bad. In nature they are very vulnerable because they have few defenses (run or spit is about all they can do, they can stomp small animals). To show a predator that they are weak or ill would be a huge weakness, so their natural instinct is to hide any illness or weakness. Remington was not at our farm so I do not know what signs he may or may not have been showing.

I also want to point out that this report points to a chronic problem. Remington had not been agisted at the farm he was at for very long. It is possible that he was infected before arriving there. Had they kept up on regular veterinary care, the extent of the coccidia in Remington was likely too advanced to be treated by regular dosing. It is hard to know when this started, when he was infected, and even if the coccidia was what caused the multi organ problems. The tissue cultures may show additional information to help sort it out.

We did call the farm we were purchasing Remington from to let them know the results of the report. And we have notified the farm where Remington was being agisted at because of concern that other alpacas could have been infected. One positive is that Remington never did touch ground at our farm. Given his condition, had he survived the transport he could have infected the rest of our herd.


Kathy said...

I thought of you yesterday on our out to the country to look at a home we are considering renting. There was an alpaca farm across the way! I've never seen an alpaca farm before except on your blog.

SOrry to hear about Remington. You guys sure have your hands full. Are you still working in SW?
I miss your posts.

cara said...

Hey Kathy! How are you?!

I saw your post about moving to the country. I think you should do it. Worst case senario you do not like it, but would that be worse than where you are now? Seems like space and fresh air would be a nice change :) And an alpaca farm nearby! How cool :)

I work part time as a farmer and part time in SW. It feels like a really good balance for me. Though I think I like working with alpacas over people LOL!

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