WV Farm Bureau Magazine July 2014 - Page 10

Parasite, continued deer population in the area. Guard dogs may help keep the deer away. Some experts say that slugs and snails prefer wet areas, so they advise owners to keep at-risk animals out of wet areas. Guineas, ducks, and geese can be brought in to eat the slugs and snails. Slug bait is a poison available to kill slugs. Our vet, Faye Gooding of Tri-County Veterinary Services in Peterstown, recommended that we give a shot of ivermectin once a month to our surviving alpaca, Julio, perhaps alternating with other products such as Safe-guard to avoid developing a resistance to the deworming medication. The author’s beloved alpaca, Meean. Fall and early winter are the most likely times for the signs to show. An unsteady gait is usually the first indicator. Crossed back legs, sitting like a dog, dragging a back foot, and partial paralysis are all early warning signs. Generally, the sooner the meningeal worms are suspected, treatment begins, increasing the chances for survival, but each case varies. As soon as we noticed our alpaca dragging a hind foot, we called a vet and she was there the next day but it was already too late. The nerve damage gets progressively worse: blindness, seizures, and total paralysis can follow. Once the animal is down, there is about a 10 percent chance of survival. Also, once the nerve damage is done, it cannot be repaired. Some owners put infected animals in slings and administer vitamins and other nutritional supplements. We gave a rigorous regime of shots for a painful week before we made the decision to put our pet down. There are several suggestions on how to prevent meningeal worms. One is to build high fences to keep deer out of the pasture area. A more aggressive approach taken by a local alpaca operation owner was to eradicate the 10 West Virginia Farm Bureau News It has been nearly a year since we lost Meean. We learned about this parasite too late to help him. However, his brother gets a shot every 28-30 days and is doing just fine. Education may be the best prevention. Although the real killers are the parasitic worms, we have a new awareness of the pleasant little snail and graceful white-tailed deer and their roles as accessories to barnyard disaster.