Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Birdie is in some trouble...and we will fight this together

I have an emergency need. And some scary news that I hope will work out.

Birdie showed signs of the dreaded Menagerial Worm and fortunately I spend so much time with her that I noticed it. I am hoping as is my vet that we have caught it fast enough to help her. This is a horrible worm, that is rampant in the east, and it is carried by white tail deer, and passed onto slugs and snails. If unnoticed and untreated it can kill a llama fast, or damage them neurologically. The deworming regime in Maine is so different than out west, and when we first got here and could not find knowledgeable vets [for ruminants, pigs or llamas] we had to rely on our 15 years of experience out West, and fellow farm people and online support...but llamas are unusual.

Last year I finally found a vet clinic I like and feel confidant with-well known in the region, far away so visits are pricey here, but it is worth it, and since I've built up some relationship with them, it is paying off today. A vet must visit a farm at least once a year [ours obviously comes more than that] and be knowledgeable about an animal before prescribing any medication. When I first noticed the signs [weak hind end] I thought she was just stiff when she was getting up-this first showed itself at the event Saturday. On the Thursday before at a therapy/elder visit, she was fine. On Sunday I noticed nothing that strange except maybe some stiffness but kept my eye on her, and last night I saw her dusting/rolling and when she got up, her hind end was very weak. I knew what it was and thought my heart would sink to my feet.

I treated her with what I had immediately and got up this morning and called my vet and I was right to do what I did, but now she will be on 10x that dosage for five to ten days. The bad news is this is a nasty worm, and some llamas-even ones that seem okay or are showing improvement- can die. I asked my vet to answer the answerable, would Birdie make it? I had researched enough to see university vet sites saying if caught early enough, and it starts in the back legs, there is a 70% plus chance of recovery. But my vet said she has seen all different cases where some llamas are downed and pull through, and some are like Birdie in not so dire a condition but don't pull through.

So I amy really sick about this. I am grateful I had built up this relationship and trust and like this vet a lot. I will be giving Birdie shots 2x day for 5 days, then the amounts change and we do 1x day. It's a blast of meds and includes a 35x dosage of one dewormer, and a double a day of an anti inflammatory drug as well as thiamine shots. I can do all this on my own, and have my vet consulting me as I go. If you have ever medicated a llama, twice a day, you know it is not the easiest animal to treat, but we will be fine. Besides, I get to hold her and tell her we will fight this together. There is a possibility she will go through the treatment and not show any signs in future, or she might be slightly neurologically damaged but all we can do is treat her, watch, and hope, and wait. Even after two weeks of treatments, I might still see symptoms, as it takes a month or more for a recovery if there is going to be one. I was also concerned about seizures which I guess can happen during treatment, but my vet felt this probably is not something to be alarmed about and she thinks we won't have any. Seizures are horrible to witness.

This spring my vet and I are also going to meet and examine all our deworming regimes, some of which are fine, some might need reassessment. I am having the extra meds overnighted to me, since its a two hour trip. If you want to help out, please do, I am not sure what it will cost. I just want my llama to live and I feel really sick about this.

I love you Birdie, I know you have many who love you so much!

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~