Sick Cria? Alpaca My Plasma!

Fay Pooley discusses the importance of colostrum for baby alpacas (cria) and how a plasma transfusion can help those who fail to receive enough colostrum within the first 6 hours of life.

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Fay Pooley BVMEdSci BVM BVS MRCVS discusses the importance of colostrum for alpacas and how a plasma transfusion can help.

If you saw Countryfile on 26th February, you may be aware that earlier that month we held a slightly unusual event at Markeaton. Four farmers brought their alpacas to us to donate blood!

When baby alpacas (known as cria) are born they require colostrum to transfer immunity from mum to cria. If the cria doesn’t get this colostrum in the first 6 hours, they are left open to life threatening infections. Treatment of cria who have had failure of passive transfer involves a plasma transfusion, and this was the reason for the event.

Alpaca Blood Donation

Adult male alpacas came to the clinic to donate blood, which then went off to Pet Blood Bank to be processed. The blood was separated into its two components, red blood cells and plasma. It’s the plasma we require for the poorly cria. The plasma is frozen and defrosted to use as required, lasting 5 years when frozen if properly stored.

In the event of a cria failing to receive enough colostrum, the plasma can be given intravenously here at the clinic or on farm to help the cria begin to fight infection. These cria are often very weak and can benefit from fluids as well as intravenous antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.

We hope this is the first of many events like this, since anyone breeding alpacas should have some plasma saved in case of problems.

Out of hours emergency

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