Foot-and-Mouth Epidemic 2001

This page and its internal links were set up at the time of the outbreak and updated on a daily basis,to help llama owners during the epidemic that swept the UK's sheep, cattle and pig industries in 2001.

No llamas contracted the disease although despite the huge efforts made to save them by the llama fraternity, a number were slaughtered on farms where the disease struck other livestock.

We have left the information on our site for archive purposes. Some will be, or become, out of date- - especially any external links.

Llamas & FMD

Llamas  have very low susceptibility to fmd. 
Scientific experiments in South America  have shown that fmd
will only affect llamas  if the virus is deliberately injected into them!
If allowed to cohabit with infected livestock under natural conditions, these experiments have shown that llamas do not succumb to the disease.

During the epidemic in the UK in 2001, to the best of our knowledge no llamas contracted the disease, and when tested on or near farms with  livestock that do have the disease, they have all tested negative.

"It may be that llamas co-habiting with diseased livestock will not contract or pass on foot-and-mouth, but if you inject the disease into llamas they will contract it. Therefore they are susceptible". So stated the then Ministry of Agriculture (now DEFRA). A classic case of science and common sense diverging into opposite directions!


FMD signs to watch for

Preventative medicine?

Slaughter: Food for thought


This page began life as a basic guide for our clients and website visitors. As fmd began to grip the country and enquiries came in from across the nation, it developed into an informal news/helpline. But as the disease spread, increasing threats of unnecessary slaughter of camelids led pro-active owners to form an independent campaign group, CAUSAL - Campaign Against Unnecessary Slaughter of Alpacas and Llamas. 

CAUSAL now has its own website and provides information and help required by camelid owners to deal with the developing situation. Accordingly we have closed the active sections of this page and are reverting back to basic information. We would refer anyone interested in following the situation, requiring the latest news, or needing help or advice to visit The site also contains comprehensive details of scientific studies relating to llamas and fmd, as well as important expert opinions. 

Camelids are classified by the World Animal Health Organisation as having low susceptibility and low carrier status. recommend that all precautions recommended or imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture on cloven-hoofed animals (cattle, sheep, pigs, goats etc), be followed by camelid owners irrespective of whether you have a herd or just one animal. 

Mixed farms or owners with other livestock are urged to try to keep  camelids entirely separate from other susceptible livestock and as far apart as possible, with no contact of any sort between the two or between those that look after each group. House them if you can.

Some fmd signs to watch for:
Anorexia, shivering, smacking of lips, mouth sores (possibly appearing like the sheep disease orfe), grinding of teeth, kicking of feet, foot lesions, lesions on toe underpads.
Check animals showing any lack of usual vigour thoroughly
Experience with sheep shows that they "hide" the symptoms much more than cattle and pigs. It is very likely that camelids will do the same, especially given their stoic nature and high threshold for bearing pain. 

Call your vet or local Ministry of Agriculture office
if you have any specific concerns or detailed questions.

representing the interests of all camelids and their owners

DEFRA (MAFF), together with updates on the current situation and follow the link to fmd.


Subject to any licences currently in force...

... do not remove your animals from their current home if that involves their travelling on public highways or across other farms. 

... do not walk your llamas on public highways or across other farms.

... DO keep all other livestock susceptible to fmd as far away from your llamas as possible. 

... Use a MAFF approved disinfectant on shoes, tyres etc, entering the vicinity of your home/land/animals. 
Renew it daily if you have sufficient to do so, and increase the strength in rainy weather. 
This is more easily done if you restrict all movement to one entrance only. (Farm shops will advise on the types of disinfectant to use, or follow the MAFF web links given below).

If you are unable to obtain approved disinfectant then ask the farm shop to reserve you some from their next batch.
In the interim, MAFF states, you can use Soda (sodium carbonate) diluted one part sodium carbonate to 24 parts water. 
Alternatively citric acid BP; one part citric acid to 500 parts water. 
Never use washing soda
and acid to disinfect the same article.

... If, without breaking MAFF imposed or recommended restrictions, you can keep your llamas on land away from roads and footpaths etc, then so much the better.

... Opinion as to whether you should house your animals is divided: free flowing air outside might be better than trapped air...
HOWEVER - importantly, if your neighbour gets fmd or other livestock on your land, MAFF consider you have a better chance to avoid slaughter if your camelids are housed. 

... minimise visitors to your home and keep them away from your livestock. 

Whilst the emergency exists, check your camelids frequently.
If you physically handle them at any time, wash and disinfect afterwards. 

Do not rush to suspend precautions when the epidemic appears to be subsiding or over. 

Allow sufficient time for incubation to take place since the last reported case.

If you have any information that might be of help or interest to camelid owners concerning fmd, please contact us:

Other llama-related questions?
Llama FAQs
Talking Llamas

These notes are offered for guidance only. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the website and we cannot take responsibility for any errors or omissions or consequences in following suggestions. If in doubt seek advice from your vet, local Ministry of Agriculture office or the above-mentioned websites.

If you suspect any animal as possibly having fmd, contact your vet or the Ministry of Agriculture immediately.

It is an offence not to report a suspected case of fmd