BAS Position on Recent developments regarding Geronimo.
BAS continues to support Helen MacDonald with the exceedingly difficult circumstances that have uniquely evolved surrounding her alpaca Geronimo over several years.
BAS highlighted concerns to DEFRA specifically in Geronimo’s case in March 2018 about the potential adverse effects of multiple priming before an Enferplex test in alpacas. To date no evidence has been produced to explain the effects of this practice on test results.
BAS has tried hard to maintain an effective working relationship with Defra and APHA for the benefit of all BAS members with regular meetings to discuss bTB policy and implementation. We respect the fact that individual cases cannot be discussed by Defra/ APHA with anyone other than the owner and the case veterinary officers and as such we have not been able to discuss Geronimo’s case.
Prompted by the issues relating to Geronimo, and with permission of Helen MacDonald, BAS has written to Government on several occasions to encourage actions that might use this case as a learning experience.
BAS has asked for controlled experiments to produce evidence that resolves concerns around the effect of multiple priming on test results, and tactical use of testing in field cases that will help develop policy and understanding, we have offered to support such research with financial input and that offer remains in place.
Work on a bovine bTB vaccine is underway and BAS urge Defra to include alpacas in that work, which would move alpaca owners into a position where they could truly engage with bTB control measures in the animals they own.
BAS fully recognises the difficulty in making changes to Government policy based on field cases. That said they do represent an opportunity for learning. We appreciate that APHA are there to deliver existing policy and cannot deviate from their instructions during a breakdown case. Nevertheless, BAS is making every effort to encourage Defra/APHA to take every opportunity to gather information to improve testing and understanding of bTB in camelids to help engage owners in voluntary testing.
At the present time BAS has 2000 members who, between them, own over 40,000 alpacas. The low level of voluntary testing clearly demonstrates a lack of confidence in the voluntary testing regime. A good deal of that lack of confidence can be linked to the Geronimo case. This is a lose-lose scenario because lack of confidence in testing leads to reduced testing and hence the opportunity to control bTB in alpacas for the benefit of alpacas and cattle.
BAS endorse the request for a further test of Geronimo to better understand what has happened. To date such requests have been declined by DEFRA/ APHA. It appears there is a fear of finding out further information.
BAS continues to be committed to the best possible practice of bTB testing in alpacas for the benefit of the animals themselves, our bovine neighbours, BAS members, and wildlife.