Prevalence of Candidatus Mycoplasma haemolamae, bovine viral diarrhoea virus, and gastrointestinal parasitism in a sample of adult New Zealand alpaca (Vicugna pacos)

Prevalence of Candidatus Mycoplasma haemolamae, bovine viral diarrhoea virus, and gastrointestinal parasitism in a sample of adult New Zealand alpaca (Vicugna pacos)
Peer reviewed

Abstract

AIM: To determine the prevalence of infection with Candidatus Mycoplasma haemolamae (Mhl), antibodies to bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), and BVDV antigen, and the prevalence of animals with elevated faecal nematode egg counts (FEC) in a sample of adult New Zealand alpaca (Vicugna pacos).

METHODS: Blood samples were obtained from 175 alpaca, collected from 15 farms around New Zealand, and from 31 samples sent to a diagnostic laboratory for routine haematology. Blood smears (n=170) were examined microscopically for the presence of haemoplasma, and DNA was extracted from whole blood (n=206) for real-time PCR testing for Mhl. Packed cell volume (PCV) was determined for 193 samples. Serum samples (n=195) were tested for BVDV antibody using ELISA, and for BVDV antigen using a real-time PCR assay. Faecal samples were collected from 143 animals; FEC were measured, and samples pooled for larval culture.

RESULTS: No haemoplasma organisms were present on blood smear examination. Of the 206 blood samples, two (from the same farm) were positive for Mhl by real-time PCR testing, giving a prevalence of infection with Mhl of 0.97%. Of the 195 serum samples tested, four (2.1%) were positive for antibodies to BVDV; animals with BVDV antibodies were from 3/15 (20%) farms, none of which farmed cattle. None of the serum samples were positive by PCR for BVDV antigen. The median FEC was 50 epg (min 0, max 4,700), with 55/143 (38.5%) samples having 0 epg, and 33/143 (23.1%) having 250 epg. Haemonchus spp. were the most common nematodes present in faecal larval cultures from the North Island. Log10 FEC was negatively associated with PCV (p=0.02), and was higher in males than females (p<0.001), and in animals that were positive compared with negative for Mhl (p=0.022).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The number of alpaca infected with Mhl was low, as was the seroprevalence of BVDV. Gastrointestinal parasitism was, however, a common finding in this sample of New Zealand alpaca.


KEY WORDS: Candidatus Mycoplasma haemolamae, haemoplasma, BVDV, gastrointestinal parasitism, alpaca

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