Lawyer says first post-mortem shows Geronimo the alpaca did not have TB

By Neil Shaw

The initial findings of the post-mortem examination of Geronimo the alpaca suggest he did not have signs of Bovine TB, supporters of the culled animal claim.

The animal’s owner, Helen Macdonald, requested a copy of the post-mortem examination after Geronimo was removed from her farm in South Gloucestershire and culled by Government officials.

Lawyers acting for the veterinary nurse said she had received a letter from the Government Legal Department containing the preliminary findings of the post-mortem examination.

These findings were then reviewed by veterinary surgeons supporting Ms Macdonald.

The alpaca had been euthanised after police officers and staff from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) arrived at Ms Macdonald’s farm near Wickwar, South Gloucestershire on August 31.

Ms Macdonald was campaigning for the destruction to be halted after insisting the bovine tuberculosis tests previously carried out returned false positives.

She had wanted him to be tested for a third time or allowed to live to aid research into the disease.

The veterinary nurse argued the Enferplex test was fundamentally flawed and said Geronimo tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin – a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.

In a statement, the 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.

“Ms Macdonald has formally requested the full findings of the post-mortem report ‘Form TB50’, together with all relevant documents and the results of further tests on tissue samples, blood, serum or plasma taken or obtained from Geronimo, along with any further test results including Enferplex, Idexx, Actiphage and any other PCR or interferon gamma tests performed by Defra, along with the results of histopathogical examination.

“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.”

In a statement, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Christine Middlemiss 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.”

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