Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Germans have gone mad!

Today I recieved a letter from the President of the AANZ (Alpaca Association New Zealand).
It said that the Germans decided that they wouldn't allow alpaca's which have been imported to Europe after 1-1-2009 because of TB-problems.

Well, see the former article on this blog: "TB or not TB" for my opinion.

We don't have any NZ-Alpacas. But I think this measurements aren't helping.... TB is a hype in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. England has a serious problem at the moment....


Alpaka Zucht Verband Deutchland e V.
Ickinger Strasse 8a

Herbert Ruch
Alpaka Association eV
Talstrasse 52
72532 Gomadingen-Wasserstetten

Dear President/Chairman

We have been advised by some of your concerned members that you have introduced a rule - ostensibly for health (Tb) reasons - that farms that have imported alpacas from New Zealand since 1/1/2009 will be excluded from German Shows.

As the industry representative body in New Zealand this gives us a great deal of concern – especially as you are implying a Tb concern with New Zealand alpacas – where there is no concern to express.

Here are some facts about NZ alpacas and Tb in this country. It is a shame you did not bother to research these facts (or talk to us) before making your decision.

1) New Zealand Government is the most pro-active in the world regarding Tb control and eradication.
2) AANZ has run a voluntary Tb testing and notification scheme (in parallel to Government schemes for cattle and deer) since 1998.
3) In that time many thousand alpacas have been tested clear of Tb each year, on an annual basis.
4) In these 12 years we have had 2 isolated breakdowns. Both in small pet herds who had chosen not to participate in the scheme. One (early in the life of the scheme) was a single alpaca whose Tb was encapsulated. The second (6 years ago) was 2 alpacas in an untested herd (i.e. not part of the scheme) from an endemic Tb area. In both these cases the Tb was contracted from wild vector population and there was no spread to other alpacas in the same herd/paddock or to other farms.
5) Tb is a notifiable disease in NZ and all vets are obligated to advise the Government upon suspicion of Tb. No advice has been made except for the two old cases noted above.
6) All AANZ members are requested to lodge post mortem findings with the Association. There have been never been any post mortem lodged that report Tb.
7) All alpacas exported from New Zealand come from clear herds under the voluntary Tb scheme - so have been regularly tested through their lives for Tb and proven clear.
8) All alpacas exported from New Zealand have been Tb tested by MAF (our government biosecurity agency) whilst in isolation for export. This EU dictated testing is to a more rigid test than our voluntary scheme and is designed to filter out even the slightest suspect sign of Tb – be it the dangerous bovine Tb or the innocuous avian Tb.
9) In recent years we are not aware of a single alpaca refused export because of Tb concerns, and many hundred alpacas are exported each year from New Zealand.
10) No UK case of Tb has implicated NZ sourced alpacas.

So you can see your ban does not reflect the actual Tb situation in NZ. It is also is contrary to the EU rules on import of alpacas into Germany.

We have a few questions concerning the background to this ban.

1) Have there been any cases of Tb in alpaca in Germany? We understand not.
2) Have any of these cases involved alpaca imported recently from NZ? We understand not.
3) The AAev letter to members refers to consulting with experts in affected countries. We wish to know whom you consulted in New Zealand about this before deciding to discriminate against New Zealand alpacas?

We would also comment that your ban does not make a lot of sense when viewed from a bio-security point of view.

1) As above, alpacas imported to Germany have been tested clear for Tb to EU standards prior to import.
2) Tb is present in Peru and Chile, and the same import tests are done, yet these countries are not included in your ban.
3) Australian alpacas pass through NZ for 6 months prior to export to Europe, so Australian alpacas would carry the same perceived risk and should be banned also – but are not.
4) Imported alpacas you consider to be at risk cannot go to shows - but are free to mingle with German alpacas at other events, do mobile matings and meet up in other circumstances. Hardly a true isolation situation. If you were serious about this being a health concern you would need to totally isolate these farms.

In general Tb is a disease which

Comes from a domestic source, not an imported one. I note that the literature refers to cases of Tb still existing in cattle in Germany - despite Germany supposedly being officially Tb free.
Is usually from wild animal vector contact, only very rarely from alpaca to alpaca contact (although that possibility does exist and has been recorded in the UK in a small minority of their cases).

In NZ, AANZ has set rules around shows that ensure that alpacas can only go to shows if they come from a herd that is independently Tb tested regularly in line with the AANZ voluntary Tb scheme, and if that herd is tested clear from Tb. We have no problems with alpaca exhibitors, or cattle exhibitors with this rule.

We suggest that instead of your rather broad brush ban, you should consider a similar scheme to the one we use to provide bio-security at your shows.

It would be simple for purchasers of alpacas from NZ to request a copy of the selling herd Government Certificate of Tb Herd Clearance which can be presented to German Show organisers along with entry forms.

This will prove long term seller herd Tb clearance, and – along with the MAF tests on export - should give you more than adequate evidence that NZ alpacas imported into Germany are absolutely Tb free.

In summary we believe your rule

1) Unfairly discriminates against some of your breeders. Whether this is legally enforceable in Germany is between you and your breeders. It would not be in New Zealand.
2) does not achieve its goal – if its goal is indeed a health one
3) is contradictory to EU regulations on import of alpacas
4) damages the reputation of New Zealand alpacas unfairly (which is our main concern as the National representative body of New Zealand breeders)

We request you cease such a rule in relation to NZ alpacas with immediate effect to avoid us taking more serious rectification measures. And consider the alternative suggested by us above.

Finally let us say that in our experience Tb is an emotive subject, and one which can get uninformed breeders highly agitated very quickly.

It is the absolute responsibility of representative Alpaca Associations around the world to try to avoid such emotive response, and to handle the Tb subject with full knowledge of the facts, dissemination of such facts, and rules that work well and properly address the problem.

We are not convinced that Germany does have a Tb problem at present. If you do we are happy to offer our NZ expertise in camelid Tb (probably the longest established expertise available in the world) to assist you in putting together an effective Tb monitoring and control programme across your alpaca population.

We look forward to the withdrawal of your current ruling. We suggest you refer to more facts coming to hand that you were not aware of previously.

We remain happy to provide you with more information should you need it.

Kind Regards,
Kate Mander
President, AANZ
(Alpaca Association of New Zealand)

Mail the alpaca-vet


  1. Yes, it does indeed seem as if the Germans have gone mad.

    What have they got against the Kiwi's!


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