There seems to be some controversy
re-emerging regarding Johne's Disease
in camelids and how that relates to Johne's Disease in other livestock.
This issue is very cloudy to say the least. The first question is, as
always, "Can llamas and Alpacas get Johne's Disease?". Unfortunately,
the answer to this is YES, THEY CAN. Fortunately, the disease is quite
rare. We do not know if this is because there is some species barrier to
Johne's in llamas and alpacas or, perhaps, this is simply a result of
different management presenting lower risk factors. I have conducted
some field serological surveys in Ohio and have done fecal cultures on
dozens of "chronic weight loss, hypoproteinemia" alpacas and llamas and
have not found a positive llama or alpaca for the disease. We keep
looking, but the disease does seem quite rare. From what we know of
other species, we expect that adults would be extremely resisteant to
pick uo the disease walking through a park. The crias - especially under
6 months old, as the most likely to be infected should they come into
contact with the organism. However, this is a serious issue needing
Some literature that may help:
1: Quist CF, Nettles VF, Manning EJ, Hall DG, Gaydos JK, Wilmers TJ,
Paratuberculosis in key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium).
J Wildl Dis. 2002 Oct;38(4):729-37.
2: Nettles VF, Quist CF, Lopez RR, Wilmers TJ, Frank P, Roberts W,
Davidson WR. Morbidity and mortality factors in key deer (Odocoileus
virginianus clavium). J Wildl Dis. 2002 Oct;38(4):685-92.
3: Shulaw WP, Gordon JC, Bech-Nielsen S, Pretzman CI, Hoffsis GF.
Evidence of paratuberculosis in Ohio's white-tailed deer, as determined
enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Am J Vet Res. 1986
4: Jessup DA, Abbas B, Behymer D. Paratuberculosis in tule elk in
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1981 Dec 1;179(11):1252-4. No abstract available.
5: Riemann H, Zaman MR, Ruppanner R, Aalund O, Jorgensen JB, Worsaae H,
D. Paratuberculosis in cattle and free-living exotic deer.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1979 Apr 15;174(8):841-3.
6: Stehman SM. Paratuberculosis in small ruminants, deer, and South
Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 1996 Jul;12(2):441-55. Review.
7: Ridge SE, Harkin JT, Badman RT, Mellor AM, Larsen JW.
Johne's disease in alpacas (Lama pacos) in Australia.
Aust Vet J. 1995 Apr;72(4):150-3.
8: Belknap EB, Getzy DM, Johnson LW, Ellis RP, Thompson GL, Shulaw WP.
Mycobacterium paratuberculosis infection in two llamas.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1994 Jun 1;204(11):1805-8.
Some Web-Sites that may help:
Institute of Food Science and Technology:
Johne;s Disease in Alpacas:
Johne's Disease in Animals: http://alan.kennedy.name/crohns/animal.htm
International Association for Paratuberculosis: Dr. Hope - leading
researcher in camelid testing for JD:
Testing methods for JD:
JD in Australia: http://aahc.com.au/jd/JD_Jan_01.pdf
USDA Documents: http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/llama.htm
Department of Primary Industries - Australia:
Animal Health Australia: http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/llama.htm
USAHA JD Committee Report:
JD in Camels in Australia: http://camell.atlas.co.uk/aajohnes.html
We will try to keep you appraised of what is going on with this disease
David E Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS
Ohio State University
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