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Facial Eczema

Alpaca at gateOccurs between January-May (late summer-autumn

Occurs when it is warm, moist and there is plenty of dead leaf matter on pasture for fungus to grow on.

The damaged liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood.  These toxins react with sunlight in the unpigmented white skin and the areas not covered by fleece.

Dark coloured animals do not show signs of peeling skin, but can still suffer serious liver damage.

Alpacas are more susceptible to the toxin than other species, so ANY spore count is considered dangerous.  Prevention is the key; for information on preventative treatments click here

Signs in Alpaca

  • Irritation and restlessness
  • Skin swelling
  • Crusting and oozing (often around nose and ear margins)
  • Decreased production / growth rates
  • Abortion
  • Sudden death - unfortunately common due to stoic nature hiding signs

Blood tests and or a Liver biopsy can be carried out by your veterinarian to form a clinical diagnosis of facial eczema.  Unfortunately, there are no treatments available.  If mild symptoms are present then we recommend feeding a low protein feed, provide shade (complete darkness is best), and use Filta-bac ointment on affected areas. 

 

Prevention

  • Assess risk factors for fungal growth  - the key indicators are warm weather and high humidity
  • Take regular spore counts of pasture being grazed
  • Fungal spray of pasture before spore counts rise
  • Good pasture management - minimise build-up of dead litter for fungal growth.  Kikuyu, chicory, plantain and red clover are safer than ryegrass
  • Supplement with zinc : Alpacas require 2g elemental zinc (2.5g zinc oxide) per 100kg body-weight daily.  The best form of prevention is pre-made pellets containing zinc.  If feeding in a powder form added to feed, then you may require a masking agent (e.g. molasses) to counter the bitter taste.
Please note :  Too much zinc can lead to pancreatic disease and copper deficiency.  Do NOT USE any zinc products differently to recommendations (e.g. drenching zinc sulphate slurry directly down the throat) as this will more than likely kill the animal than prevent facial eczema.  Zinc sulphate is not useful through water troughs as Alpacas do not drink enough water to consume a useful dose.  As zinc sulphate makes the water bitter it may also reduce the water intake further.