Pregnancy toxemia and lipid mobilization syndrome in two alpaca (Vicugna pacos) at 6 and 10 months of gestation

Keywords: Pregnancy toxemia, hyperlipemia, induction of abortion, Vicugna pacos.


Primary ketosis, or pregnancy toxemia, is an uncommon feature of pregnancy in camelids compared to small ruminant species. In severely debilitated females, induction of abortion or parturition should be considered to alleviate the syndrome. This case report describes the clinical findings and medical treatment approach of ketosis in two pregnant alpacas (Vicugna pacos) referred to the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (OVUD) of the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Perugia, Italy.

The first patient was a 7-years old female alpaca 6-months pregnant, 80 kg body weight and BCS 3.25, with a 5 days history of anorexia and regurgitation. At initial examination the body temperature was 38.6° C , with a  glycaemia of 341 mg/dL. Ultrasound examination of the abdomen revealed no fetal heart activity. On the third day from admission the animal started to feed and the temperature decreased to 37.9°C. On the same day 100 µg of prostaglandin agonist (Estrumate®) were administered IM. On the fourth day of admission, appetite increased and abortion of a dead fetus was noticed. On fifth day of admission, temperature was 37.5° C, the alpaca showed good appetite and rumination, feces were normal and fetal membranes were expelled. Due to the improved general condition the alpaca was dismissed.

The second patient was a 3-year old female alpaca, 10-months pregnant, 65 kg body weight and BCS 3.0, which was referred with lethargy, anorexia and signs of colic. At presentation, glycaemia was 141 mg/dL and rumen activity was absent. Ultrasound examination revealed live and vital fetal parameters (heart rate; 110 bpm). A blood sample was taken and, once centrifuged, the serum appeared milky and triglycerides reached 1208 mg/dL. The general condition of the animal improved with fluid and supportive therapy. At day 4 of admission a morphologically normal, female cria was born; however, no suction reflex was present within the first 1.5 hours. The cria was bottle-feed with bovine frozen colostrum, but the general condition constantly declined; failure of passive transfer was noticed through biochemistry profile. Since no response to supportive therapy was achieved, the cria was euthanized at 36 hours of life. Dam’s condition improved and, after expulsion of fetal membranes, the alpaca was dismissed.

Prognosis for camelids whit fat mobilization syndrome and pregnancy toxemia depends on the timing of diagnosis and intervention . In both reported cases, our approach showed good results in preserving the survival of the dams, while one fetus was diagnosed as already dead upon initial clinical exam, and  the other one died within 48h from birth.