Quarantine. New arrivals, visiting alpacas, and alpacas returning from events must be quarantined. The USDA recommends 30 days. The bacterial/viral prepatent period is 14-21 days on average. Parasites/coccidia prepatent period is 3-6 weeks.
Quarantine is effective for diseases with short incubation periods and where symptoms are expressed. For example with BVDV (non PI) and ARDS. It is not effective for diseases where symptoms are unapparent because the alpacas appear normal but may carry and shed the organism. For example with Brucellosis or Lepto.
An effective and efficient quarantine area doesn’t have to be elaborate. It should include an area located away from your main herd; no shared fences or air space. It also should include a shelter, fenced pasture or pen, water source, separate tack and equipment, and feeders and waterers that can be disinfected. Something as simple as a livestock or horse trailer with portable panels that allow the alpacas to go “outside” if they wish would suffice for short periods of time.
Always handle quarantine chores LAST.
Testing. Disease and parasite testing is not 100% accurate. You need to consider the date of test and the sensitivity of the test. For example a SN vs PCR BVDV test, or a flotation vs centrifuge fecal test.
Before new arrivals or visiting alpacas are brought to your farm be sure they have had a current physical exam (body score, weight, skin, anemia, temperature, etc.), BVDV test, and fecal test. Also be sure that their vaccinations/dewormings are up-to-date. A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) completed by a licensed and accredited veterinarian should accompany all transported alpacas. The CVI is required by USDA interstate travel regulations. In addition, each State has it’s own requirements.
After new arrivals or visiting alpacas are brought to your farm do another basic physical exam (body score, weight, skin, anemia, temperature, etc.) and a fecal test. Watch for diarrhea, lack of appetite, fever, coughing, lethargy, or nasal discharge.
Vaccination. Vaccines increase immunity to disease. Vaccinating is the most common way veterinarians and alpaca owners lower biosecurity risks. However, vaccination is not the only or even the primary means of decreasing the risk of disease.
Vaccination effectiveness is limited because not all alpacas will respond to vaccines due to medication resistance or new strains of infectious diseases. Also, not all alpacas that respond will be protected from disease.
Sanitation. Helps protect herds from exposure to disease. Disease can be spread by contact with other animals/insects, humans, and inanimate objects.
Sanitation includes avoiding overcrowding; keeping pastures, feeding, and loafing areas, and related equipment clean; promptly removing dung piles; and controlling parasites, birds, insects, rodents, and other animals.
A good and economical disinfectant is 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.