One of the times I was at the vet with Flopette last month I joked with Julia that I need a ten-trip vet ticket to save money. If only I knew…
Yesterday was another alpaca-emergency run to the vet, this time with Latte. Latte had always had problems with scouring- ever since we got her about 1.5 years ago. Periodic tests of the loose poo never revealed anything definiative (negative worm eggs, negative bacteria, negative coccidia). Over the last few months her poos had been getting much better, but she was still quite thin. Her cria last year (Nabaztag) had sucked many kilos off her, and she had never gotten them back.
Then, a few weeks ago, she started scouring again. We put it down to “another episode”, and did our best to provide additional feed. Then in the last few days she started to loose weight fast. Monday night she was a mess, lethargic and unhappy. Tuesday morning she could not stand on her own, and could barely walk- off to the vet! (a neighbor helped me carry her up onto the ute). We got the bloods off to the lab, and the initial results came in that evening.
They were… complicated. Like the sort of blood work analysis you would give a medical or veternary student to test their diagnostic skills. Massive anemia (she is probably only alive at that low a red blood cell count because she is a camel adapted for high altitude). Massive muscle wastage. Some liver enzmes up. Lots of other weirdness.
Most likely diagnosis- Lymphoma (or maybe Leukemia). Yes, it looks like she has cancer. Probably has had it all along, and the periodic scouring and weight-loss problems were due to it.
We are giving her treatment for her symptoms. At this point there are three possible outcomes. (1) She dies in the next few days. (2) We have her euthanized if she remains too weak to stand in a few days. (3) She recovers for now.
In the event of (3) she is retired, as the stress of pregnancy/lactation would probably cause another relapse. And even so she would probably die in the next year or two.
At least she does not seem to be in pain, and still has an apetite. I try to keep her warm, comfortable, and fed. We will see what happens.
Have I mentioned we are not having the bestest year ever here? To quote Ivanova from B5: “I seem to be burning off Karma at an accelerated pace.”