Post-mortem shows 'not a shred of evidence' Geronimo had tuberculosis

Geronimo the alpaca’s post-mortem reveals ‘not a shred of evidence’ he had bovine tuberculosis, owner says

  • Geronimo the alpaca’s owner said post-mortem showed ‘not a shred of evidence’ he had bovine tuberculosis
  • The animal was put down by Government vets after a four-year legal battle
  • Last night, Helen Macdonald released full report of post-mortem carried out
  • She and her vets claim it revealed all tests showed Geronimo was negative for the disease 

The post-mortem carried out on Geronimo the alpaca has revealed ‘not a shred of evidence’ that he had bovine tuberculosis, his owner and vets said last night.

The animal was put down by Government vets after a four-year legal battle in August.

Last night Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald released the full report of the post-mortem carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

She and her vets claimed it revealed all tests showed Geronimo was negative for the disease.

Last night Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald released the full report of the post-mortem carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Pictured: Geronimo is examined by a team of people ahead of being taken away in a trailer to be put down, on August 31, 2021

The post-mortem carried out on Geronimo the alpaca has revealed ‘not a shred of evidence’ that he had bovine tuberculosis, his owner and vets said last night

But she was immediately countered by Defra which said a ‘number of TB-like lesions were found’ and were being investigated further.

Miss Macdonald said: ‘I fully expected the post mortem results to be negative for bTB but there is no joy in being proven right. I am outraged and devastated by the way Geronimo and I have been treated.’

Geronimo twice tested positive for the disease in 2017, but Miss Macdonald insisted the tests were flawed and produced false positives.

Dr Bob Broadbent, Geronimo’s vet, said that, significantly, no lesions were found in the alpaca’s lungs or respiratory tract – the most common place for lesions in an animal with bTB. He added: ‘If Geronimo had had bTB for over six years as Defra claimed, you would expect to find large, classic pyogranulomas (tumours) produced as a result of bTB infection.

‘None of the lesions identified are pathognomonic (or) specifically indicative of bTB. Despite Defra claiming all of the lesions are “TB-like”, the post-mortem report expressly rules out any mycobacterial infection such bTB relating to the lesions found in the neck area.’

Vet Dr Iain McGill, who has been advising Miss Macdonald during her battle with Defra, agreed the report failed to show any evidence of the disease in Geronimo.

She and her vets claimed it revealed all tests showed Geronimo was negative for the disease

The animal was put down by Government vets after a four-year legal battle in August. Pictured: Geronimo supporters are seen holding signs outside of Shepherds Close Farm in Gloucestershire on August 19, 2021

He said: ‘If Geronimo had died naturally, and this post-mortem had been carried out and yielded these same results, any veterinary surgeon or pathologist would state that there is no evidence of bTB at all. Simply put, there is not one shred of evidence from this report to suggest Geronimo had bTB.’

Miss Macdonald accused Environment Secretary George Eustice of acting ‘immorally and unethically’ and demanded a public apology from the minister.

Dr Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer at Defra, said: ‘A number of TB-like lesions were found and in line with standard practice these are now undergoing further investigation.’ 

She added: ‘We would expect to complete the full post-mortem by the end of the year.’

It comes after last month when Geronimo’s owner claimed the animal is being ‘denied a funeral’ because the Government is refusing to hand over his incinerated remains.

Helen Macdonald claimed the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has insisted on holding onto the South American mammal’s ashes due to the risk of contracting TB.

Timeline: Geronimo’s long struggle for survival

2017

  • Geronimo is brought to England from New Zealand in August 2017 by his owner, veterinary nurse Helen Macdonald.
  • He tests positive for bovine tuberculosis twice in August and November, and is put into isolation away from the rest of the herd at the farm in Wickwar.

2018

  • The Government applies for a court order in July to have Geronimo destroyed. The alpaca is given a stay of execution, with a deadline of the end of August for his slaughter.
  • Miss Macdonald seeks a judicial review claiming new evidence shows the animal is healthy – marking the start of a series of lengthy legal battles.
  • In November, Miss Macdonald wins the right to a review at the High Court.

2019

  • In March, a hearing gets underway and Miss Macdonald claims Government experts relied on ‘flawed science’. The case dismissed in July.

2021

  • In May, a district court judge orders an execution warrant.
  • Miss Macdonald starts an appeal and an order is made preventing Geronimo’s destruction pending the application.
  • She takes out an emergency injunction to delay a warrant to cull the animal before an an appeal hearing on July 29.
  • The case is again dismissed. A judge agrees to delay the start of a second execution warrant until August 5
  • Geronimo is taken away on August 31 and executed.

The alpaca was dragged from Miss Macdonald’s farm in Gloucestershire in August by Government officials in boiler suits and facemasks – and dozens of police officers fending off animal rights campaigners – days before a court order to execute him lapsed.

Less than 90 minutes later, Defra confirmed that Geronimo – who had twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis but had refused a third test – was executed by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency, bringing a four-year legal battle to a close.  

Miss 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 also argued that 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.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Miss Macdonald alleged: ‘They (Defra) incinerated the ‘carcass’ as they referred to him. They wanted me to arrange for him to be put to death so they could say I consented. They told me to tell them when he was dead so they could collect the ‘carcass’.’  

The farmer believes that Geronimo should not have been led from her farm in Gloucestershire with a rope around its neck, but instead in a head collar, the paper added.

A Defra spokesman told MailOnline that Geronimo was euthanised by APHA in line with strict animal welfare policies. By law, any animal with a suspected TB infection must be disposed of properly and safely as part of rigorous and consistent disease control measures. 

It comes amid a row over whether Geronimo had bovine tuberculosis after Miss Macdonald claimed the initial findings of the post-mortem showed no signs of the disease. 

Miss Macdonald claimed that the preliminary post-mortem findings were ‘negative for visible lesions typical of bovine tuberculosis’. However, the Chief Veterinary Officer said in a statement that ‘a number of TB-like lesions were found’.

The farmer had also called on Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign. 

Source: Read Full Article