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Testing Pancreatic Function in Sick Camelids

Morris Animal Foundation–Funded Clinical Study

D07LA-006, University of Minnesota and Oregon State University, Dr. Anna Firshman

Patients Needed: The study is being performed both at Oregon State University and the University of Minnesota due to involvement of multiple co-investigators and researchers are in need help in identifying sick animals to include in the study. The study calls for 16 sick animals to be tested. If you have an adult alpaca that is sick and has been off feed for more than 24 to 48 hours, it is very likely to be developing an underlying fat mobilization disorder, whatever the initial cause.

Procedure Performed: Enrollment in the study will consist of performing an arginine stimulation test. A catheter will have already been placed into the alpaca/llama's jugular vein for treatments it will need during its stay in the hospital. We will use this catheter to draw the blood samples during the test to minimize any discomfort from the procedure. The procedure will take approximately 20 minutes to perform. After the test is completed the alpaca/llama will receive the treatments and care required for his/her condition and no further testing for the study will be carried out. We have not experienced any complications with this procedure and any treatments your animal needs will not be significantly delayed by this procedure. The cost of the arginine stimulation test excluding the cost of the catheter and other treatments necessary for its condition will be covered by the research team. The results will be made available to you in writing if you so request. We plan to distribute the knowledge we learn from these cases worldwide by publishing in scientific journals, without disclosing the identity of the farms or specific animals involved

Incentive: In addition to enrolling the animal into the study, the animal can receive specialized treatment and care by vets at the VTH experienced in camelid medicine.

Study Outline: Hospitalized camelids (llamas/alpacas) often develop a condition called fatty liver, which can ultimately lead to their death. Our studies have linked susceptibility to this syndrome to the camelid's inherent insulin resistance and reduced pancreatic function. It is suspected that this particular trait of camelids may contribute to the common finding of high blood sugar and development of fatty liver syndrome when they become sick. Fatty liver syndrome is often seen in sick camelids which, despite the initial problem, is often the cause of their ultimate demise. To date, no studies investigating changes in the function of the pancreas in sick camelids have been performed. The arginine stimulation test is a short procedure that has been used effectively to study human patients with diabetes. Dr Firshman has developed this test to be used in camelids and is studying pancreatic function in sick and healthy camelids in order to further our understanding fatty liver syndrome in these animals. New knowledge obtained will help to develop better treatments and preventive strategies for fatty liver, thus improving the health of this species.

Contact Details:
If you have any questions regarding the study please contact Dr. Anna Firshman, 612-625-6700.