Gloucester TB-positive alpaca destroyed, Defra confirms

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed a Gloucester-based alpaca that tested positive twice for bovine TB has been euthanised to prevent the spread of disease.

The animal, known as ‘Geronimo‘, became the centre of a four-year campaign after its owner Helen Macdonald insisted both results were ‘false positives’ due to their proximity with other tests after the animal was imported from New Zealand.

The matter was brought to the High Court last month. However, Macdonald’s bid to seek an injunction to prevent the animal’s destruction was unsuccessful.

In a statement, Defra confirmed: “A court warrant was used today (Tuesday, August 31) to enter premises for the purposes of removing the bovine tuberculosis-positive alpaca known as ‘Geronimo’.

“The infected animal was moved from the premises and euthanised by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as a necessary measure to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis.”

Bovine TB is one of the most significant animal health challenges facing England today, leaving behind devastating impacts on our farming and rural communities and costing taxpayers more than £100 million each year. The disease is mainly associated with cattle but can also infect and be carried by other mammals.

Last year alone, more than 27,000 cattle had to be slaughtered in England to curb its spread.

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease.

No one wants to have to cull infected animals if it can be avoided, but we need to follow the scientific evidence and cull animals that have tested positive for bovine TB to minimise spread of this insidious disease and ultimately eradicate the biggest threat to animal health in this country.

“Not only is this essential to protect the livelihoods of our farming industry and rural communities, but it is also necessary to avoid more TB cases in humans.”

A post mortem examination will now be undertaken by veterinary pathologists from the APHA.

This will be followed by a bacteriological culture of selected tissue samples, which can take up to three months.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed its officers also attended the farm in the Wickwar area of South Gloucestershire.

“We’ll always support our partner agencies to carry out their lawful duties and our role was to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure public safety was protected,” a spokesperson said.