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Geronimo the alpaca

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Rolling hills with woodland and hedges separating various fields

There is misleading coverage in several media outlets including the Times and Daily Mail over the weekend about the case of Geronimo the alpaca, who has twice tested positive for TB.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, the chances of a false positive using the Enferplex test – the test requested by the owner in August 2017 and has been promoted by the British Alpaca Society over other TB antibody tests – are less than one percent. Geronimo has been tested twice to this test and was positive on both occasions.

Claim: Geronimo only tested positive because he was previously primed with injections of bovine TB bacteria.

This is not correct. The injection of tuberculin does not induce a false positive antibody response in animals that are not infected with bTB in the first place.

The tuberculin skin test involves the injection of a very small dose (0.1ml) of a purified, sterile ‘cocktail’ of proteins extracted from dead bovine TB bacteria into an animal’s skin. The tuberculin skin test itself has a very low sensitivity in camelids. Therefore, its main purpose is to boost the levels of specific antibodies generated by the animal’s immune system against a pre-existing bTB infection, which might otherwise be below the detection threshold thereby producing a false-negative test result.

The injection of tuberculin essentially amplifies the antibodies already induced by an existing infection. It does not trigger the production of a new antibody response in TB-free animals.  It does not matter how often you repeat this procedure (i.e. the injection of tuberculin) in an animal prior to an antibody test for TB such as the Enferplex test. Tuberculin does not build up in an animal and if that animal has not been infected with bTB, there are no antibodies to boost in the first place.

APHA routinely uses the ‘boosted’ Enferplex and other validated antibody tests in alpacas and llama herds that are not under movement restrictions, but which may be at risk of TB because they happen to be located near an infected cattle herd. Even in those at-risk herds we find very low proportions of positive results, approximately 1 to 3% on the ‘boosted’ antibody tests, which have been carried out in over 1,500 alpacas and llamas since 2019.

Claim: There is no evidence for the accuracy of the Enferplex when used without tuberculin priming.

The accuracy of the Enferplex and the other approved antibody tests for TB in camelids, including alpacas and llamas, were first estimated as part of a peer-reviewed study published in 2012 and were re-evaluated and updated by APHA in March 2018, based on the latest available data gathered. This included approximately 25% of our TB-free control group that had been subject to tuberculin ‘priming’ 10-30 days before the blood samples were taken for antibody testing. The specificity figures quoted by the Environment Secretary therefore does include data from tuberculin primed camelids. It is the test that was requested by British Alpaca Society at the time.

Claim: We should use Actiphage test, which detects the DNA of TB.

Actiphage tests are not validated – so their results are difficult to interpret. For actiphage tests to work, it requires bovine TB bacteria to be circulating in an animal’s blood, which doesn’t necessarily happen until the advanced stages of TB. As mentioned above, the Enferplex test has been specifically developed and validated for alpacas and is the most accurate test.

Claim: That the Enferplex test is not accurate because it only measures antibody levels and not the protein of the bovine TB bacteria.

Enferplex blood tests detect serum antibodies to antigens (proteins) specifically produced by the bovine TB bacterium.

The Enferplex test looks for antibodies in response to seven different types of bovine TB antigens, which is one of the reasons why it is such a highly specific and reliable test. Geronimo tested positive and had antibodies to four different types of the TB antigens in response to the TB bacterium.

Claim: The Environment Secretary has ignored Geronimo’s owner for three years.

The Environment Secretary has reviewed the case very carefully multiple times over the last few years and has interrogated all the evidence with expert vets, alongside the Animal and Plant Health Agency. We have always sought to address any concerns raised fairly, including throughout the extended legal proceedings brought by Geronimo’s owner.

We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation – just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease. It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.

Bovine TB is the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that we currently face and with over 27,000 cattle in England needing to be slaughtered in the last year to tackle the disease.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

As a veterinary professional for over 20 years, I know the devastation that TB can cause farmers, their communities and their animals.

While I sympathise with Ms Macdonald’s situation, we need to follow the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for TB, to minimise spread of this insidious disease, and ultimately to eradicate the biggest threat to animal health in this country.

The tests used on Geronimo were developed for use on alpacas and are highly specific – the chances of a false positive are significantly less than one percent and we have tested him twice. Not just for the benefit of our farming industry but to avoid more TB cases in humans, our disease control measures must be applied.

Further information on the need to eradicate bTB can be found on our APHA science blog site.

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  1. Comment by robert preedy posted on

    I notice on the live video camera picture that Geronimo is surrounded by another 5 alpacas. Surely these would also now be infected. George Eustace promised much improved animal welfare standards, but the recent exposure of appalling treatment of factory farmed chickens makes me question his sincerity. Long live Geronimo and his herd.
    The real, unspoken, problem is the mass production of sentient animals for
    an unregulated ever growing human population.

  2. Comment by Shirley Cooksley posted on

    This government is intent on destroying our wildlife. The badger cull is one example. Now the government intends to remove protection for certain species eg red squirrel,badger and hedgehog
    Why? So the developer's can march in and destroy important wildlife habitats.
    This government STINKS.

  3. Comment by Jane Harrison posted on

    #savegeronimo Killing this poor creature is very wrong

  4. Comment by Queenie posted on

    The poor little alpaca looks fine to me. He's made it this far ...four years later and is fit and we'll and hasn't infected anyone. Why are they jumping on this bandwagon all of a sudden.

  5. Comment by Freda Gower posted on

    Boris Johnson, George Eustace and Defra need to allow another test on Geromino. How can they fairly justify his slaughter without it. Geronimo's owner has said she would accept the outcome of another test done at her own expense.If this terrible and unjust slaughter goes ahead without another test this would then need to be followed by a post mortem so the public are aware of the result. If this should show Geronmino was free of TB this will be a terrible outcome not only for Defra but horrendous PR for this government. Not to mention poor Geronimo

  6. Comment by Roger Norwich posted on

    So Geronimo must have had TB (allegedly) at least since 2017. As a doctor, if I had a patient that was diagnosed with TB but who with no treatment whatsoever for TB remained totally fit and well with no sign of disease at all after 4 years I would be having to ask myself if the original premise had been correct. In this case it seems vanishingly unlikely that the animal actually has the disease at all and the tests are simply an artifact of previous vaccination. The government agency position is arrogant and lazy. I assume that vets and doctors work on the same basis that being 'do no harm' so time for some humility.

    • Replies to Roger Norwich>

      Comment by Celine posted on

      Well said, they should re test him. He is family to his owner. God bless this little alpaca.

    • Replies to Roger Norwich>

      Comment by Geronimo Supporter posted on

      BAS Position on Recent developments regarding Geronimo-link
      BAS continues to support Helen MacDonald

      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.

  7. Comment by Roger Norwich posted on

    So Geronimo must have had TB (allegedly) since 2017. As a doctor for humans, if I had a patient who with no treatment whatsoever for TB remained totally fit and well with no sign of disease at all would be having to ask myself if my original premise had been correct. In this case it seems vanishingly unlikely that the animal actually has the disease at all and the tests are simply an artifact of previous vaccination.

    • Replies to Roger Norwich>

      Comment by Sue D'Alessandro posted on

    • Replies to Roger Norwich>

      Comment by Laird posted on

      So, you, not a veterinarian, just bluntly rejected the statements of actual veterinarians, based on your experience with an entirely different species?
      Yeah, remind me to not see you for medical services or advice.

  8. Comment by Viv Hamilton posted on

    The APHA update from March 2018 (which is published in a peer reviewed scientific or veterinary journal) cited in this blog is neither scientifically nor statistically credible in determining the real world specificity or sensitivity of any of the tests. The work is severely flawed by sample selection bias. While this work is useful for quality control in verifying that different labs produce the same result, it cannot validate the real world performance as it does not appear that any attempt has been made to ensure that the sample set if statistically representational. In fact the two sample sets are of the two extremes: visual lesions (which are generally thought to be late stage disease) and TB-free meaning those from herds which have never had suspicion of disease. The latter group is therefore likely to have excluded those with an increased likelihood of generating false positives. This exclusion bias is particularly significant when it comes to the claim that this update validates the use of enferplex with priming. The 79 such samples come from 'TB free' herds ie all animals in those herds all tested negative during contiguous testing; any herd with any positive test would have moved from scenario 4c to scenario 4a and therefore be considered suspicious for bTB. This is not good science! To put it bluntly, in attempting to determine the specificity of the tests (ie ratio of true positives to false positives) APHA have started with the assumption that ALL positives are true positives and constructed their sample set to reinforce this assumption as the conclusion.

    • Replies to Viv Hamilton>

      Comment by Viv Hamilton posted on

      The first line should be not published in a peer reviewed journal - unlike the original!

  9. Comment by Heather Hobbs posted on

    Apart from the fact that Geronimo was imported from a country that has not had a bTB case in alpacas in 20 years and that Geronimo was primed a number of times. 4 years on Geronimo continues to be a unique case in the fact that he is still alive and healthy, how many other animals with a “suspicion of disease” were not “culled” and are still alive? Retesting would not create a precedent it would provide valuable scientific data.

    Also why do DEFRA refuse to speak to their counterparts in New Zealand?

    • Replies to Heather Hobbs>

      Comment by Celine posted on

      You are so right in everything that you say. God bless this little alpaca and his owner.

  10. Comment by Nathan A Cresswell posted on

    If the enferplex only detects the disease at such high levels I'm pretty sure 4/5 years down the line since "being infected" that test most definitely would detect the disease, although alpacas only survive a max 3 years with the disease without treatment so where do you stand on this? Do you plan on retesting him before killing him, do you plan on testing him after he's been killed to make sure you was correct, what happens if it comes back negative are you going to recompense Helen the owner? This whole situation comes back to badgers as well why cull when there's vaccines you could implement.

  11. Comment by Christine Wareham posted on

    97 Kimblewick Hunt Hound's tested positive for btb, showing Hunting Hounds are a major Biosecurity threat.
    How many more Hunt's hounds are carrying & spreading tbt when they are rampaging through fields of livestock ?
    Why are this Government & the Farmer's turning a blindeye to this major Biosecurity threat ?
    Why are you refusing to use the more advanced btb test on Geronimo ?
    Is it because it would most likely come back negative, and your normal btb testing would then show it wasn't fit for purpose all along ?
    Why should Geronimo be cruelly shot and lose his life because this Government doesn't want to lose face ?

  12. Comment by Christine Wareham posted on

    97 Kimblewick Hunt Hound's tested positive for btb, showing Hunting Hounds are a major Biosecurity threat.
    How many more hounds are carrying & spreading btb when they are rampaging through fields of livestock ?
    Why aren't the Government & Farmer's concerned about the major Biosecurity threat they pose, why are they turning a blindeye ?
    Is it a case of this Pro-Hunt Government looking after their Hunting chums & Pro-Hunt Party donors ?
    Why aren't you using the more advanced btb testing on Geronimo, is it because you don't want to lose face that the btb isn't fit for purpose ?

  13. Comment by Graham MacHarg posted on

    It is important to understand the principle of ‘priming’ an Alpaca prior to a blood test. This is the injection of PPD-B Tuberculin into the Alpaca because it is thought to make some blood tests more accurate. There is great uncertainty about the safety of priming before blood testing with the Enferplex Test, even with one dose of PPD-B Tuberculin. There is absolutely no validated or peer reviewed research that has been undertaken establishing the safety of multiple priming intentional (DEFRA ordered) or unintentional (because of multiple standalone skin tests for whatever reason).
    Now the really scary bit:
    ‘PPDs are not without a number of critical limitations. PPDs are crude extracts of mycobacterial culture supernatants that are difficult to standardise, and are largely undefined in their overall content and the identity of active components’. ‘The quality control processes, to determine the PPDs’ biological activity (potency), depend solely on the ‘guinea pig potency test’ that is notoriously unreliable and difficult to perform and to standardise’. ‘The Guinea pig potency assay in itself, also requires reproducible and high quality reference standards’. Prof H. Martin Vordermeier et al, (February 2021).
    This in short means that not only has the safety of multiple priming never been considered by DEFRA, but also that no one actually has any idea from batch to batch of PPD-B Tuberculin of exactly what it contains, which immunoglobulins, protein derivatives are being injected into the Alpaca. The Alpaca’s blood is then tested against a fixed panel of seven antigens for any antibodies to these proteins. It does not take much logic and intelligence to work out that with each ‘priming’ the chances of some of the seven antigens that Enferplex looks for increases exponentially and with high dose multiple priming it is absolutely clear that this test is a death sentence with DEFRA’s current draconian interpretations.
    It also explains why, with the first four primings being injected with the NEW ZEALAND PPD-B Tuberculin, Geronimo’s first Enferplex result was so high and it decreased as the NZ derived Tuberculin immunoglobulins waned over time. I postulate, that given the above, and that the UK PPD-B Tuberculin deployed by DEFRA in November 2017 could not possibly have identical components to the NZ Tuberculin, the UK PPD-B Tuberculin did not overlap with the all same Immunoglobulins that were injected into him in New Zealand.
    Given the wholly unreliable make up of PPD-B Tuberculin described by Professor Vordemeier (H.Martin Vordermeier. Professor, Team Leader (TB immunology & vaccinology). Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) / Aberystwyth University, UK.) this HAS to cast even more substantial doubt on the accuracy of the tests used to condemn Geronimo.

  14. Comment by Kathryn Smith posted on

    If you are so sure why refuse another test. You could insist Geronimo’s owners bear the cost of this test. What harm would this do apart from expose your flawed system..? Oh yeah….

  15. Comment by posted on

    They are just terrified of being made to look fools and the horrendous consequences a negative test will do to them, Re Test him

  16. Comment by Chris Hubbard posted on

    Please can you provide a response to this claim: Geronimo would have got sick or died by now if he had TB as he was tested 4 years ago.

    I know it has been said that TB can have a variable incubation period and that some animals may not show signs until the late stages, but how long typically can an alpaca last for with TB? There must be some data on this? Now that we are 4 years on, what stage should Geronimo be at? And although he was tested positive 4 years ago, if he does have TB, we don’t know precisely when he contracted it so he could have had it even longer than 4 years.

    And secondly, if Geronimo is slaughtered, when he has a post mortem examination, after 4 plus years of potentially harbouring the disease, would you typically expect to find visible lesions or be able to culture TB? Again, presumably there should be some data on the likelihood of TB being identified at PME if the animal has had it for at least 4 years?

    If no visible lesions are found and it cannot be cultured, given that he tested positive 4 years ago, would you tend to be of the view that he was not infected? There must be a time period by which you would expect to find evidence of disease within the body even if there were no clinical signs when the animal was alive?

  17. Comment by James Dell posted on

    The actual manufacturer of this test is documented in the high court case as stating that it is very unlikely that the test results indicate a progressive disease. And to exercise extreme caution in the interpretation of the results.
    They are the ultimate authority on this.
    DEFRA even responded (on record) that they are disappointed that they are casting doubt over their own test. "disappointed"?!! surely they are to be commended. That's real science.

    • Replies to James Dell>

      Comment by D Goddard posted on

      It indicated the animal is carrying antibodies for the disease rather than progressive disease. On that basis, farmers are giving up for slaughter around 500 cows a day.

    • Replies to James Dell>

      Comment by Hdrf posted on

      Save Geromino

    • Replies to James Dell>

      Comment by Rebecca Kennedy posted on

      I sense & believe that poor goat Is not sick at all because it still looks too healthy & yes, I agree that they misdiagnosed that beautiful angelic looking goat, as with the owner who is protecting him. Don't allow them to execute him t all. They are the ones being inhumane towards it all over a misdiagnosis. If I were in your shoes, I would sue them for harrassments , etc. Stand Your Ground for sure against their power of attorney. They are going wrongfully kill your pet & I'm so sorry to hear that. My prayers are going be with the both of you too, OK? Rebecca Kennedy

    • Replies to James Dell>

      Comment by Richard posted on

      Did the manufacturer deny that the tests indicated the presence of the TB pathogen, or that the animal could pass the pathogen on to other animals in suffiently close contact?

  18. Comment by Jason posted on

    Refreshing to read the facts and not the media hype and anti-government spin.

    • Replies to Jason>

      Comment by Graham MacHarg posted on

      I think that is about the most short sighted comment I have read in a long time. All of a sudden this Government is unable to do anything wrong apparently and the media are all liars? I think it's the other way round.

    • Replies to Jason>

      Comment by Antony Dearsley posted on

      You may not be aware but DEFRA was formally the Ministry of Agriculture, this name change was an essential part of a government departmental reorganisation.
      The then Labour government hoped that DEFRA may be able to regain some credibility after under its former guise it had mishandled the last UK Foot & Mouth Crisis (The disease first surfaced in an abattoir in Essex on February 19, 2001) and behaved so arrogantly towards the farming communities and the general public.
      It seems that DEFRA is in danger of making the same public relations mistakes made then, although of course social media makes it much harder to hide the true facts from the public.
      The easy way out of this is for DEFRA to allow Geronimo be tested in by the method appropriate for his species, this gives them and their political masters a way out, its a good PR opportunity or vote winner!
      If they don't either a minister may well lose their head or some senior members of DEFRA will be sacrificed!
      Politicians can be quite ruthless when they think it may lose some votes or popularity!

  19. Comment by James dell posted on

    If you are so confident do another test! The media is watching.

    • Replies to James dell>

      Comment by Graham Bottley posted on

      And what precisely would another test show? When that one also came up positive, no doubt you would demand yet another.

      • Replies to Graham Bottley>

        Comment by James Dell posted on

        if the correct test is done using correct protocols then the result be it neg or pos will be valid and the correct course of action can be taken. This test was not done correctly and the manufacturer has stated that extreme caution should be exercised interpreting the results. DEFRA cocked up, tried to hide this and are now stuck between a rock and a hard place.

        • Replies to James Dell>

          Comment by Graham Bottley posted on

          Not at all. The test has been done properly. Twice. And it has come up positive both times.
          It is infected.

    • Replies to James dell>

      Comment by Fiona posted on

      I agree! What harm can it do to let him have another test? There has been a lot in the media about another case similar to Geronimo, and he had to be destroyed, yet when a post-mortem was done, there were no traces of TB in his lungs.

      Due to the amount of press coverage Geronimo has had, it would be wise to do another test, just to be sure, so no mistakes are made. Geronimo has been in apparent good health, since the test done 4 years ago. If there is a negative result, DEFRA need to remember, it takes the ‘bigger man’ to accept when he is wrong.

  20. Comment by Jamie Dempsey posted on

    As an alpaca owner living amongst cattle farmers I take bTB very seriously not just for my own herd but for the businesses around me and would not hesitate to take the difficult decision of pts straight away if one of my animals tested positive. When we first got into keeping these animals, we new it was a risk and we would have to make these decisions as responsible owners regardless of them being commercial animals or pets.
    However, my understanding is that Geronimo's case is unique in that he was not tested following correct protocols and was primed and skin tested twice within the recommended waiting period. It would be very useful if DEFRA could give a statement as to a. Whether this is true or not? and b. If it is true, why they refused the owner a retest knowing this? Thanks

    • Replies to Jamie Dempsey>

      Comment by Antony Dearsley posted on

      Hi Jamie,
      Have you had any explanation from DEFRA on this?
      It seems to me that DEFRA are not being honest or open about all the facts on this!

      • Replies to Antony Dearsley>

        Comment by Jamie Dempsey posted on

        Not yet but this comment only went live recently. It's this part of the argument that is missing out of the statement for which would be good to get a response on from them whatever that may be. I have said he was primed/skin tested twice within that period but I I've seen been told it might even have been more than that!

    • Replies to Jamie Dempsey>

      Comment by Jeffrey Adams posted on

      I think it's disgusting the so called scientists in charge of this government agency refuse to follow science. If there is a mandatory or required waiting period between tests, and this procedure was not followed, the test results are called into question. The need to conduct a new test is the only responsible thing to do.

      • Replies to Jeffrey Adams>

        Comment by Jamie Dempsey posted on

        Exactly. I'm disappointed they haven't put a statement out for this claim as my understanding (although happy to be corrected), is that it's this that was the basis of Geronimo's case four years ago and what made it unique. We shouldn't have to be scientist or qualified vets ourselves to keep these animals so have to be able to trust the system and not giving any response to these specific claims at all just fuels the fire of doubt for me.

    • Replies to Jamie Dempsey>

      Comment by Jamie Dempsey posted on

  21. Comment by Tim Smith posted on

    Why are you moderating comments opposing your point of view and highlighting scientific fact rather than your own propaganda?

    • Replies to Tim Smith>

      Comment by Christine Wareham posted on

      They have not let my comments on here about 97 Kimblewick Hunt hounds testing positive for btb, showing Hunting hounds are a major Biosecurity threat in the countryside when they are rampaging through fields of livestock.
      How many Hunt's hounds are carrying & spreading btb ?
      They wrecklessly turn a blindeye to this major Biosecurity threat .
      Why don't they want to use the more advanced testing on Geronimo, most likely because it would come back negative and will then show their btb testing wasn't fit for purpose all along.

  22. Comment by Janet posted on

    If you are sure the alpaca is positive then test him again oh you won't because you aren't what a load of rubbish

    • Replies to Janet>

      Comment by Antony Dearsley posted on

      What puzzles me is that Geronimo doesn't seem to have been the source of any TB infection in any other animals in and roundabout where he has been kept for over four years?
      Possibly this may be a way forward?
      SureFarm Ltd has today launched the UK’s first government approved private health scheme for the voluntary surveillance of bovine TB (bTB) for the camelid industry.

      SureFarm Camelid Diagnostics is a voluntary system for farmers and has been developed over the last two years in conjunction with DEFRA, AHVLA (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency) and representative groups of the camelid industry including the British Alpaca Society and British Camelid Society. Minette Batters, Deputy President, NFU attended the Camelid Diagnostics launch.

      The scheme uses a new serological blood test providing far greater accuracy than the current skin test known to be imprecise in camelids. Camelid Diagnostics will maintain the integrity and security of the British camelid industry and increase commercial opportunities for its members including the export of stock to Europe. By having animals accurately tested the scheme will clarify the herd or individual animal’s infection status in relation to bovine TB at the time of testing.

      Andy Adler, BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Director, SureFarm Ltd, says, “SureFarm Camelid Diagnostics is a prime example of innovative and progressive veterinarians, working closely with their farming clients to provide a ground breaking science-based solution to the problem of Bovine Tuberculosis on farm”.

      SureFarm Ltd, a subsidiary of Synergy Farm Health Ltd, works in collaboration with SureTest Ltd and Enfer Laboratories to provide the serological Enferplex Test. The ground breaking serological test only requires a single blood sample to be taken for testing from Camelids. The test is also available for bovine TB in the wider farming, zoological and pet industries, however this is still at the research phase of development. The scheme also uses a statistical assessment to aid determination of herd infection status, pioneered by SureFarm’s expert Alastair Hayton and which has been approved by DEFRA.

      The Camelid Diagnostics scheme will enable herd level testing to confirm freedom from infection, testing of individual stock before movement or purchase and pre-export testing.

      Peter Roissetter, British Alpaca Society explains, “We have been working with British Llama Society and Camelid Vets for over two years to try to find the most accurate bTB test and ensure its availability to our members. We are very pleased that Government has approved this ground breaking voluntary scheme launched by SureFarm. The BAS is optimistic that Government will soon finalise a realistic compensation package and the protocols for use in a confirmed bTB breakdown, which will complete the overall approach we take in combating this disease.”

      Claire Whitehead, President, British Camelid Veterinary Society, says, “SureFarm Camelid Diagnostics is an example of how camelid breeders are helping themselves. Bovine TB is not prevalent in camelids but the introduction of this new serological blood test will take away the uncertainty of the skin test and provide an opportunity for owners to verify the health of their herds.”

      For more information about SureFarm Ltd Camelid Diagnostics visit or call 01935 83203 or email

      • Replies to Antony Dearsley>

        Comment by James posted on

        Unfortunately, the voluntary testing of Alpacas will be in tatters depending on which route DEFRA choose. Slaughter, retest or research are the only options available. Who is going to voluntary test and be in the same boat as Geronimo.

        Geronimos owner was trying to promote voluntary testing within the camelid community and it has been a debacle ever since.

        No matter how many MP's you write to, tweet or attempt to contact, they either refuse to reply because they are scared of saying anything that may be taken out of context or sound as if they don't have a clue. All they do is just quote the same letter DEFRA sends out about being sympathetic and bTb needs to be stopped.

        Here's hoping for a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved

  23. Comment by D harman posted on

    If this alpaca does have btb, then why Is it still alive. Is it not ment to cause ill health and eventually kill them?
    I also thought btb was spreadable, yet Geronimo's field mates haven't caught it from him. Does that mean if I have tb in my herd that I don't need to worry because if Geronimo 100% does have tb, this shows its not spreading. So I won't bother doing any voluntary testing then, if what your saying is correct.
    Defra you are playing a dangerous game, and what we thought was true about tb obviously isn't correct. A animal can live a healthy life with it, it doesn't spread like we thought.
    Re test him, write a statement re the results and start working with Geronimo rather than being pig headed. If you are wrong, hay ho it's just one of those things. If he tests positive, carry on but investigate why he was so healthy living with it. Maybe able to help with a vaccine.
    Stop putting your head in the sand and doing nothing exsept bullying your way through because now no one is going to take btb seriously.

  24. Comment by Kim Merritt posted on

    For a start, try getting the month correct. It is March 2018 you refer to in your release, not Mach 2018.

  25. Comment by Valerie Bushell posted on

    Why won't you allow ONE more test? What harm will it do? To my mind you are just being arrogant and beligerent. Helen has stated that if another test comes back positive she will definitely have him euthanised. By not allowing one more test implies that you are worried he will test as negative. Geronimo was last tested FOUR years ago and has been healthy ever since. My understanding is that alpacas with bTB waste away and die within one year of contracting it so if he did have it he should have died at least 3 years ago. The TB hub website states "Signs of infection with TB include weight loss and respiratory signs." Geronimo has not lost weight and has no respiratory problems. The slaughter of a healthy alpaca is just senseless. And what about the numerous alpacas and llamas you have euthanised on suspicion of TB only to find their post mortems came back clear. I am also very concerned that you originally stated that Geronimo was thought to have contracted bTB whilst still in NZ. Do you not liaise with your NZ counterparts MPI and OSPRI who have stated as recently as July 2021 that no alpaca in NZ has been known to have contracted bTB in the last 20 years.

  26. Comment by john wright posted on

    i lost half my cow with tb the strees of it all resulted in me having a stroke

    • Replies to john wright>

      Comment by mikex posted on

      what about the other half a cow?

  27. Comment by STANLEY BYTHEWAY posted on

    Defra tell so many lies how can they look in a mirror
    They just want to save face , top people in this field have stated he needs a different test.
    DEFRA should be disbanded it kills before it thinks

    • Replies to STANLEY BYTHEWAY>

      Comment by Antony Dearsley posted on

      11 August 2021
      My previous explanation seems to be unavailable on here.
      DEFRA were once called the Ministry of Agriculture but lost public trust due to the the way the department mishandled the last UK foot and mouth crisis in 2001.
      The 2001 foot and mouth crisis was a PR disaster mainly because of the way the Ministry of Agriculture used strong arm tactics including the police and army to bully the public and farming communities rather than using understanding and common sense.
      In 2001 animal movements were banned, animal welfare was non-existent and many, many thousands of uninfected livestock and pets were needlessly destroyed when there were other alternatives as used in other parts of Europe .
      But it looks like lessons weren't learned and DEFRA is again ignoring common sense and the will of the people they supposedly serve and are intent on slaughtering a healthy pet because they have the power to do so!

  28. Comment by Charlene Tamagno posted on

    No you are wrong... the tests can give a false positive! I believe in vaccines but some animals and humans can then prove positive afterwards.

    Especially when they already have antigens! This is a sector we have not explored yet!

    My mum has antibodies and is a carrier will I get rid if her?

    we can give this animal a TB jag and see how it goes.

    Will I put my mum down because she is a carrier??

  29. Comment by Suzi posted on

    It has been fine in isolation for 4 years and shows no signs on disease. There is no harm in doing another test unless you are scared it will come back negative!!! The way animals are treated is disgusting. The only way they are delt with is by killing them when there are other more humane options.

  30. Comment by Michael Rees Hughes posted on

    Christine Middlemiss says "we need to cull animals that have tested positive for bovine TB". What about the thousands--yes, thousands, of disease-free badgers --you slaughter (you like to call it culling, but it's totally indiscriminate) without bothering to find out if they are carrying the disease?. What about your promise to bring culling to an end? In fact you are extending this slaughter for the next two years at least. Little wonder your statements on this alpaca issue aren't trusted.

  31. Comment by Sarah Portsmouth posted on

    • Geronimo was imported from a farm in New Zealand that has that Nation’s highest bTB free status – with 25 years of all clear annual testing of all susceptible farmed species on the holding. There has not been a single positive test in an Alpaca in New Zealand for over 20 years according to their Ministry of Primary Industries – their equivalent of DEFRA. This testing at home, has resulted in Geronimo having three annual PPD-B injections, followed by an extra pre-export injection for skin testing, and yet another for the DEFRA imposed ‘re-test’.
    • At least 7 times the amount of PPD-B is injected weight for weight into an Alpaca compared with bovines.
    The developers of the Enferplex test (used on Geronimo) have gone on the record with reference to Geronimo’s tests, particularly the DEFRA re-test, to say In December 2017 “Given these observations, and that there is very reasonable doubt from a clinical perspective as to whether the animal is a true M Bovis positive, then we would continue to highly recommend caution in interpretation of the results.” Alistair Hayton, vet and director of Synergy Farm Health/SureFarm the Enferplex test developers, noted in a letter to Ms Macdonald that Geronimo had declining antigen results despite the last DEFRA imposed priming and no response occurred to the key marker for in the Enferplex test.
    It is also noted from Geronimo’s Enferplex results (both tests multiply primed), that he unsurprisingly produced a positive antigen result for PPD-B, which he had been previously injected with. If this positive result was removed from the overall result he would not have failed the original test and we would not be where we are now.
    • Given the content of the minutes of the ‘Defra meeting with Camelid Representatives in 2016 – ‘The industry was concerned that a number of imported camelids and others that had been tested pre-export were testing positive to blood tests but then testing negative at the 30-day test. The common denominator was that the camelids had had a succession of check skin tests during quarantine before export. The industry’s evidence suggested that two or more skin tests in the previous six months caused a build-up of tuberculin in the animals which could cause false positives to further blood tests. Could Defra consider not culling such animals and allowing a retest? ACTION: Defra would consider whether to ask owners for details (dates, for example) of previous skin tests. This has never been done.
    • Geronimo meets the criteria precisely that this passage discusses – yet DEFRA, although in full knowledge of this issue with double priming, did not respond even to ask when the last previous administration of PPD-B had taken place for an imported Alpaca.
    • Consequently, Geronimo’s case is absolutely unique especially in that he has been ‘primed’ 5 times – at the last count – so leniency and a retest can set no precedent and therefore cannot be used to damage the bTB eradication programme.
    • Please therefore will the Secretary of State use the powers provided to him to quash this Warrant, and order a re-test?
    A pre-tuberculin blood sample exists for Geronimo – but the Secretary of State consistently refuses to allow it to be tested.
    Why? And why not do a validated retest?
    Thank you.

  32. Comment by Warner posted on

    Re execution of Karlie the Alpaca, if this is the best the Government can do with science then how does the Covid vaccination program really stand?

  33. Comment by Graham MacHarg posted on

    Oh well - at least you have responded to my post even if you have moderated it out - and corrected your spelling mistake.....

  34. Comment by J. RIce posted on

    U. K has failed to eradicate bovine T. B since the 1930.s.

    • Replies to J. RIce>

      Comment by Roger Clemens posted on

      the 1896 report of the Royal Veterinary Cllege reports that therecould be nearly a million cattle withTb

  35. Comment by David Bowman posted on

    It is heartbreaking to see outwardly healthy looking animals slaughtered be they fine cattle or pet alpacas. I sympathise with all stock owners but there is no option but for Geronimo to be euthanised imho.
    I sincerely hope that the people marching in protest finally accept this decision peacefully.

    • Replies to David Bowman>

      Comment by Jenny MacHarg posted on

      Never. Geronimo's testing was faulty and DEFRA knew previously that their testing regime could lead to a false postive, which it did. No livestock lives for five years with a wasting disease and currently would body score 5 out of 5 in our herd.

  36. Comment by Jenny MacHarg posted on

    SO many inaccuracies, where to begin?
    Stephen Cane (DEFRA) insisted to Geronimo's owner in a meeting with her that he caught bTB in New Zealand? New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries have not had one single positive bTB test in an Alpaca for over 20 years. DEFRA knew of the impact of multiple priming in camelids as the following paper by Domenech states:-
    The impact of the administration of tuberculin on the specificity of antibody tests in TBfree animals (i.e. potential induction of false positive results) is a potential concern outside TB breakdown situations, such as private routine surveillance and pre-movement TB testing. It has not been possible to assess this directly in camelids, because samples
    from skin-tested animals from unrestricted TB-free herds have not been available. None of the TB-free alpacas tested during the BAS-funded study carried by APHA in 2011-12 had received a skin test (Rhodes et al. 2012).
    Taken from the official DEFRA Scientific Evidence paper by Dr Ricardo de la Rua Domenech 2013 /2017

    Why did DEFRA continuing with a fifth priming of this alpaca and then a blood test to find supposed bTB, absolutely disgraceful behaviour.

  37. Comment by Graham MacHarg posted on

    Firstly, if you want to be taken seriously, learn to spell Enferplex properly....moving on, the low false positive rates are only accepted for Alpacas that have not been 'primed' within preferably 9 months of the Enferplex test. Double priming and multiple priming studies have not been done. Geronimo had 3 doses of PPD-B tuberculin in less than 12 months at 7 times the weight for weight cattle dose. Enferplex looks for antibodies to PPD-B and unsurprisingly finds them with multiple high dose priming. If an Alpaca has been subjected to multiple doses of PPD-B Tuberculin of course it is going to become sensitised to it and react strongly when blood tested. It is not 'single priming' that is the crux of the matter here it is multiple priming. This is what makes Geronimo such a totally unique case - a point clearly being ignored by DEFRA and spun past the Courts and everyone else. Can we not just accept that when you fill an Alpaca with high doses of PURIFIED PROTEIN DERIVATIVE to M.Bovis several times, wait for a reaction and then test for it you are going to find it. Since you are utterly determined to kill him, what will you do when there are no visible lesions and you cannot culture M.Bovis? Remember there is a pre-priming blood sample that you have refused to test all these years - what when that comes back negative? There will need to be resignations and complaints to the RCVS......

    • Replies to Graham MacHarg>

      Comment by Jeffrey Adams posted on

      There must be prison time and severe fines for liars in positions of power who destroy or allow to be destroyed unique property- in this case an animal- that results from their lies. The science and proper medical procedure for testing were obviously not followed in the case of Geronimo the alpaca.

  38. Comment by Jackie Aucott posted on

    Please explain why, if Geronimo has posed such a threat, he has been allowed to live for this length of time? If he is being kept in a bio-secure environment why can this not continue?

    Is it also correct that the Government embarked on a massive badger culling exercise to curb the spread of bovine tb? The Government said this was based on sound scientific advice. At the time this was opposed by certain leading academics . If some 27 000 are still needing to be slaughtered each year it suggests that such sound science is not so sound after all. No wonder so many people are now questioning the science around Geronimo's case.

    Slaughtering your way out of this, be it cattle, badgers or the odd alpaca, does not seem to be solution. Time for a cattle vaccine maybe??

    • Replies to Jackie Aucott>

      Comment by Graham Bottley posted on

      He is not in a biosecure environment.
      The cull was opposed by one or two academics in face of the evidence, and it is proving to be a highly effective strategy.
      Vaccination will do nothing at this stage to limit spread.

  39. Comment by John W. Baxter posted on

    How did the alpaca in question get into the country with our rigid entry requirements?........who tested it , and to be fair with all those who have had their bovine herds culled on the same test evidence, why was this animal spared ?. This is a much different tone from the APHA notification I received.

  40. Comment by Peter Hunt posted on

    With all the very important environmental issues in our country that need urgent action today, coverage of this alpaca story has reached unrealistic proportions being driven by, I suspect, a majority of city dwelling types who react to an ‘adorable’ face whilst being largely ignorant or couldn’t care less about the real issues threatening our green and pleasant land.

    • Replies to Peter Hunt>

      Comment by DIANA MILLER posted on

      I am able to look beyond a "pretty face" and read the detail behind. In the past week I have read and read on this and discussed it with experienced stockmen to understand the current regime and the testing procedure. I do not pretend to be an expert in TB testing, far from it, but even the experts don't seem to agree on this. This goes beyond one animal and links to a government body that does not appear to be prepared to listen or negotiate - that is a national issue that goes beyond one animal and links the the trust the public can have in any government body treating people objectively and fairly. I personally believe he should be re-tested and allowed to live if negative.

    • Replies to Peter Hunt>

      Comment by Helen Turner posted on

      Or perhaps, just maybe, its about time for us all, (even the city dwelling types, which I'm not) to actually stand up and demand justice for Geronimo and support for his owner. Seems to me that after reading previous knowledgeable posts on the science behind it all that a retest is imperative. Change and progression only happen when voices are heard!!!!

  41. Comment by NEON Reynolds posted on

    Yes - think of the farmers' position! Waste no moremoney - sadly put Geronimo down.

  42. Comment by Mick Walters posted on

    Mick Walters.