Veterinary researchers at the University of Minnesota have been investigating the gene mutation thought to be responsible for choanal atresia or multiple malformation syndrome in alpaca. Dr Anibal Armien, Associate Clinical Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Minnesota and Kent M. Reed PhD are the principal investigators.
Choanal atresia is a common inherited congenital disease affecting alpacas and llamas. They believe it is similar to the CHARGE syndrome in human beings where neonates and infants present with multiple malformations including choanal atresia and that a gene mutation located in the CHD7 coding region may be responsible in both camelids and humans.
Choanal atresia (CA) is a malformation characterised by an abnormal development of the nasal passages which provide the airway connection between the nose and the larynx. The major clinical presentation of CA in camelids is persistent dyspnea (shortness of breath). Blockage of the choanae (nasal passages), either partial or complete, is especially problematic for newborn cria that are primary nasal breathers. Crias with CA have a severe prognosis with no practical treatment alternative. As a result, euthanasia is the only option to relieve the animal from prolonged suffering.