Geronimo: Owner claims alpaca didn't have Bovine Tb based on initial post-mortem results

8 September 2021, 14:29 | Updated: 8 September 2021, 23:56

Geronimo the alpaca's owner says the initial post mortem results show he did not have Bovine Tb
Geronimo the alpaca's owner says the initial post mortem results show he did not have Bovine Tb. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Geronimo's owner has claimed the alpaca did not have Bovine Tuberculosis based on findings from the initial post-mortem.

However, the UK's chief veterinary officer (CVO) - Dr Christine Middlemiss - immediately rebuffed Helen Macdonald's assertion, saying "a number of TB-like lesions were found" when analysing the animal.

Ms Macdonald, a registered veterinary nurse, requested a copy of the post-mortem results after her pet was removed from her farm in South Gloucestershire last week and culled by government officials.

She then received a letter from the Government Legal Department containing the preliminary findings of the port-mortem examination, her legal team said.

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These results were then passed on to veterinary surgeons supporting Ms Macdonald, who claimed they showed no "visible lesions typical of Bovine Tuberculosis".

In a statement, her lawyers said: "As reviewed by Dr Iain McGill and Dr Bob Broadbent, the preliminary gross post-mortem findings are negative for visible lesions typical of Bovine Tuberculosis.

"For clarity, there are no white or cream caseous, enlarged abscesses typical for bTB in alpacas whether in the lungs, bronchial, mediastinal or retropharyngeal lymph nodes."

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Geronimo's owner has now formally requested the full findings of the post-mortem, along with all relevant documents and the results of further tests on tissue samples, blood serum or plasma taken from the alpaca.

"She has further requested that both fresh, frozen and formalin-fixed tissue and fluid samples be preserved and provided to an independent expert to carry out further tests," her legal team added.

However, in a statement, the UK's CVO said: "We have completed the initial post-mortem examination of Geronimo.

"A number of TB-like lesions were found and in line with standard practice, these are now undergoing further investigation.

"These tests include the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples which usually takes several months - we would expect to complete the full post-mortem and culture process by the end of the year."

Nonetheless, Ms Macondald has called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign over the preliminary findings.

Speaking outside outside Defra's Westminster offices, she said: "We urge the Government to act with compassion and cooperation, which to date has been severely lacking, creating deep and unnecessary distress to Geronimo.

"We call on the secretary of state to tender his resignation immediately."

The veterinary nurse added: "Geronimo was a blessing in my life. He touched the world. He was loved and precious to very many people and he lives on.

"I miss him. But I will do him the honour of fighting for him and making sure his legacy lives on for all animals."