Owner claims Geronimo the alpaca did NOT have TB despite autopsy finding lesions
Geronimo’s owner claims the initial results showed no physical signs of bovine tuberculosis, but the country’s most senior vet said ‘TB-like lesions’ were found and technicians have yet to inspect his cells
Geronimo the alpaca’s owner has claimed preliminary post-mortem results have found the animal did not have bovine tuberculosis.
However the initial results probed whether they were any physical signs of the disease, and did find ‘TB-like lesions’, according to the country’s most senior veterinarian.
Helen MacDonald’s lawyers said the results were negative for visible legions.
However the authorities inspecting his remains say the initial examination did find lesions.
This means there is not yet conclusive proof whether Geronimo did in fact have TB, and a final result may not be known until the end of the year.
Authorities say technicians analysing the alpaca’s remains still need to inspect his cells in order to find conclusive proof of whether or not he had the disease.
The animal was killed by Defra officials after they stormed Ms MacDonald’s farm and dragged him away.
Geronimo had been on ‘death row’ for months after the High Court ruled he must be destroyed after an earlier positive test.
Holding a protest in Westminster today, Ms MacDonald repeated her calls for Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign.
Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Christine Middlemiss said on Wednesday: “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.”
Ms Macdonald, requested a copy of the post-mortem examination after Geronimo was removed from her farm in South Gloucestershire and culled by Government officials.
Helen Macdonald vowed to fight for animal rights in “honour” of Geronimo.
Surrounded by supporters outside Defra’s Westminster offices, Helen Macdonald 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.”
She 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.”
Protestors supporting her high-profile campaign to save Geronimo descended on the farm in a last-ditch bid to save the Alpaca and bear witness to his removal in a case that sparked a nationwide row.
Ms MacDonald had cast doubt over the test results findings, and maintained that Geronimo was able to live in his pen safely distant from other alpacas.
Her fight attracted star support from celebrity animal rights campaigners, led by broadcaster Dominic Dyer and Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan.
Authorities offered Ms MacDonald the opportunity to have her own private vets euthanise Geronimo, but she fought to save the animal instead.
The row lead to a tension on August 31 as supporters at the farm protested as police wearing hazard gear dragged Geronimo away into the back of a van to be killed elsewhere.
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.
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.”
Her bid to be present for the post-mortem failed after authorities declined the request.
The examination was undertaken by experienced veterinary pathologists from the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency.
According to the experts, microscopic lesions of TB in affected organs can take a very long time to progress to larger, visible lesions, if at all and it is considered significant to find these signs.
No10 referred requests for comment regarding Ms MacDonald’s calls for the Environment Secretary’s resignation to Defra.