A glorious country setting, a hapless body in the library, a multitude of possible villains and an unlikely sleuth brandishes her knitting. Slowly and masterfully the red herrings are sifted from those characters with means, motive and opportunity. Clues rain down, and we try our best to identify the killer. The climax is reached at the ‘big reveal’ when we discover identity of the perpetrator – we find out whodunit.
By Sue Thomas, Lyme Alpacas Parasitology Services
Whilst I have yet to hear of a sick or deceased alpaca in a library and am a hopeless knitter, the nature of parasitology is a little Marple-esque. All too often clues are submitted to my laboratory a little too late to turn the fortunes of a stricken beast, but gathered on a regular basis, clues can provide all the evidence required to keep parasites at bay.
Of course alpacas can lose weight, become lethargic, unthrifty, lag behind the main herd, and sometimes die for many reasons other than parasite infestation. But if you suspect parasites in your herd, simple testing will allow you to identify or rule out parasites as a first step in your investigation. Testing is inexpensive and yields fast results leading to decisive, appropriate treatment.
I would urge all alpaca owners not to wait for clinical signs of disease before acquainting themselves with the potential killers on their pasture. Just as toe-nail clipping, winter vitamins and vaccinations are planned husbandry events, integrating twice yearly screening of some or all of your herd for parasites can prevent unnecessary suffering, improve alpaca welfare, improve fleece quality, reduce veterinary and medication costs.