Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Foot and mouth

One thing that I didn't know about llamas until today was that they can get foot and mouth disease. I had read somewhere that they didn't get it but was a little confused when the papers reported that llamas were susceptible to foot and mouth and that the Surrey hills llamas were being closely monitored for signs. (We currently have a foot and mouth outbreak in cattle in Surrey, possibly linked to the local drug company and agricultural research laboratory that produce animal vaccines for foot and mouth disease). I read up on it a little more and it seems that llamas can get foot and mouth and can transmit it but are not particularly susceptible, have few symptoms and recover from it quickly. They seem to have a natural resilience to most strains of the disease. I got to thinking about how awful it must be then to raise your heard of llamas over the years (these are raised predominantly as pets or breeding stock) and then have to face the possibility of them being slaughtered on your farm, especially as they are not likely to suffer too much as a result of the disease. I don't think I would be able to bear that and I can now understand how many farmers who lost their herds in the last outbreak became depressed and suicidal. I spoke to a friend this evening who lives near the area and we decided that in the Autumn we will go on a llama trek with the Surrey llamas so I will keep my fingers crossed that they are still there!

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