Camelid Medicine & Surgery

Camelid Medicine & Surgery

WSU offers a wide range of services for all camelids. Llamas, alpacas as well as cervids (animals in the deer family, from within the State of Washington) are diagnosed and treated for a wide range of disorders.

The camelid program is composed of three sections: Clinical Service, Education and Research

Our core team - Drs. George BarringtonJames EvermannSteve Parish and Ahmed Tibary - has expertise in camelid medicine, disease, and reproduction. 

Contact Information

Ms. Marsha Ginther , LVT for Ag (509-335-0711) for more information about scheduling clinical cases.

Darrel Nelson, supervisor of the Washington State University Veterinary Anatomy Laboratory & Museum, shows the world how to assemble an actual camel spinal column, part of a full camel skeleton he is assembling this summer. Video by Bob Mitchell, BCU/WSU

Clinical Service

Our team oversees a case load of over 600 cases per year from neighboring herds or referred by practitioners across the Pacific Northwest as well as other states. Our college has specialists in all areas of veterinary medicine who are available to consult on special problems which require advanced diagnostic or therapeutic techniques.

The anesthesia group provides the highest standard of care for the management of anesthesia in critically ill or pregnant camelids. This team is also involved in research on alpacas, evaluating heart function with various anesthesia and pain management protocols. A cardiologist provides consultation for advanced techniques in the evaluation of heart disorders of camelids.

Our teams of equine and small animal surgeons provide a wide range of advanced surgical techniques. To cite a few recent examples: a neurosurgeon working with radiologists diagnosed and treated a pregnant female alpaca with a brain hemorrhage and a small animal surgeon was able to correct a congenital urination problem in a cria. This cria, although not suitable for reproduction, is now leading a healthy and comfortable life.

Pathologists and diagnosticians from the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (WADDL) provide diagnostic support using histopathology, microbiology, toxicology, virology and parasitology. Leading veterinary virologists at WSU are studying viral infections in camelids and their significance in diseases such as abortion, as well as studying the immune response to vaccination against specific disease agents. Immunologists have also been able to define a syndrome of immunodeficiency in llamas and alpacas and are working diligently on an early diagnosis technique.


Veterinary Curriculum

We at WSU know the importance of camelids and the shortage of veterinarians with the necessary skills to care for them. We have instituted several changes in our curriculum to provide a strong training program for all our graduates.

  • First year veterinary students received three hours of introductory lectures and one laboratory to learn about the behavior, nutrition and handling of camelids.
  • All students are exposed to the practice of camelid medicine during their senior year.
  • We offer a one credit course especially designed for the study of camelid medicine and surgery
  • Students with special interest in camelid medicine and surgery may join a student club that organizes various activities under the mentorship of a faculty member.
  • Annually, two students who demonstrate a special interest and ability in camelid medicine and surgery, receive the camelid scholarship awarded by the Western Washington Alpaca Breeders Association.

As a result of these efforts, each year, at least two of our veterinary graduates chose to work in a strictly or predominately camelid practice. 

Graduate students are currently studying camelid reproductive physiology, reproductive disorders and anesthesia and pain management.

Continuing Education for Veterinarians:  Our team is asked by regional, national, and international veterinary organizations to present on various camelid care topics.

Extension and Continuing Education for Breeders:  Our team speaks regularly at regional and national camelid breeders associations.


Our team of clinicians and scientists has contributed several papers in scientific journals as well as presentations at international and national meetings.

Washington State University