Haemonchus Among Us

This horrific parasite has reared its ugly head within our practice area.  Because of the life threatening effects this parasite has on camelids, we wanted to make everyone aware
of the signs and facts associated with this specific parasite.

Some of the more common cases we are seeing in our hospital are females that have recently had a cria. In our hospital, it is common to see infection in females that have recently had a
cria. This is most likely because at the time of parturition the female's immune system is suppressed. Along with an increase in energy demand to produce milk these animals are most
susceptible to the haemonchus infestation.  We have also seen animals that have no apparent stressor in their lives but are showing signs of this parasite.

Clinical signs/Signs you will see in your animal:
1.Weight loss (Both acute and chronic)
2.Pale mucous membranes (best place to look is up under upper eyelid)
3.Famacha Anemia chart:
4. Other places you can look are lips, gums, tongue, and vulva.
5. Change in attitude/activity: Depression, lethargy, separation from the herd, reluctance to move, etc.


Background Information:

Haemonchus contortus (AKA Barber Pole Worm) live in the intestine (3rd compartment to be specific) of alpacas.  They are voracious eaters and breeders (one female can produce up to 10,000 eggs per day).  As adults they have a red band that gives them a "barber pole" appearance.  Haemonchus is a blood-sucker and is able to remove blood proteins and red blood cells from the blood stream.  This causes animals to become anemic and have low protein.  This can affect fleece production, muscle growth, milk production, ovum and sperm production, metabolism, development and maintenance of immunity.


Fecal Analysis- "Strongyle looking" eggs under the microscope, but in very high numbers (usually too numerous to count).  Because differentiation between strongyle eggs and haemonchus is difficult we are sending the samples to an outside laboratory.

We recommend checking fecals on all of your females immediately post birth to check for parasite infestation.  This way, if need be, we can address the parasites on an individual basis and with dewormers we would not be able to use if the female was pregnant.  It also gives insight as to what the cria is being exposed to.

Blood Analysis-

Hematocrit (measurement of red blood cells to indicate anemia) Normal is 20-30%.  Infected animal can be as low as 3%-15% depending on stage of disease.

Total protein (measure of protein component of blood to indicate loss of proteins)  Normal is 4.7-7.3 g/dl. Clinically affected animals are below 3 g/dl commonly.


Blood Transfusion
Iron Supplementation
Vitamin B Supplementation
Dewormers- Levamisole, Pyrantel paomate
*Most of the cases we have seen are resistant to benzimadole dewormers (Valbazen and


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