British Alpaca Society calls for urgent talks with DEFRA amidst fears for the future of voluntary bTB testing in the UK.

09 August 2021     British Alpaca Society

PRESS RELEASE -9 Aug 2021 -for immediate use

British Alpaca Society calls for urgent talks with DEFRA amidst fears for the future of voluntary bTB testing in the UK.

BAS recognises the need for an effective bTB testing scheme in alpacas that has the confidence and support of its members for the benefit of their alpacas and their bovine neighbours.  The recent events relating to Geronimo have done nothing to advance that position and have considerably undermined confidence in the current regime.

The unique circumstances that have developed relating to Geronimo clearly show the testing system is not working as well as it should, and it is a matter of concern  that Defra do not appear to want to learn from what is going on.

Defra will not allow further testing on Geronimo. There is no science to explain the effects of multiple priming on the outcomes of the Enferplex test in alpacas and no research has been carried out.

Four years on from the tests Geronimo is healthy, as are the alpacas which have been sharing his paddock, and indeed the alpacas that travelled from New Zealand with Geronimo on the same or contiguous crates.

BAS is concerned that George Eustice is not being properly briefed.

His Daily Mail article contains factual errors. George Eustice says, …”the Enferplex test detects the protein of bTB itself, not an immune response”.

The manufacture’s website clearly states “the Enferplex TB test is a serological assay which identifies the presence of antibody to Mycobacterium bovis”.

Mr Eustice also says, “the skin test can pick up around 25 per cent of cases in alpacas at best so is far less reliable than the test used in the UK.”

The skin test he downplays is also used in the UK (on alpacas and cattle) and is approved by the UK Government who recognise an 80% sensitivity in cattle and 15%. in camelids.

BAS highlighted concerns to DEFRA about the potential adverse effects of multiple priming before an Enferplex test in alpacas in 2016 and again specifically in Geronimo’s case in March 2018. To date no evidence has been produced to explain the effects of this practice on test results.

BAS endorse the request for a further test of Geronimo. To date such requests have been declined by DEFRA/ APHA.  Alpaca breeders and owners would welcome the opportunity to learn from Geronimo and cannot understand why the government would not wish to do so as well



Duncan Pullar BAS CEO on behalf of the BAS Board

07496 578781