Claire E Whitehead BVM&S MS DACVIM(LA) FHEA MRCVS

Director & Veterinarian

Clinic: +44 (0) 1491 680313
Mobile: +44 (0) 7769 271506
[email protected]

Claire graduated as a vet from the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 1999. She then worked in private practice for a couple of years in the South of England.

Having had a growing herd of alpacas at home over the preceding 10 years, Claire realised that there was a niche to be filled in the area of Camelid veterinary medicine in the UK and moved over to the United States to learn about the veterinary care of camelids (mostly alpacas and llamas) from globally-renowned experts: initially this was just for 6 months, but she ended up landing a prestigious Residency in Large Animal Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, working under David Anderson. As a US-based residency, this entailed long hours (70-80 hours /week) and little holiday (10 days a year!) but after 3 years she had completed the residency, become board-certified with the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Large Animal) and obtained a Masters degree with a thesis on vitamin D supplementation in camelids. The learning opportunities and caseload were second to none anywhere in the developed world with 1500 camelid patients alone seen annually within the Food and Fibre Animal section.

Following a further year as a Clinical Instructor in Camelid Medicine & Reproduction, Claire then moved back home to the UK, setting up the Camelid & Farm Animal Hospital at the Royal Veterinary College (London). She left the RVC at the end of 2010, and subsequently set up Camelid Veterinary Services. She was recognized as the first and only (currently, 2019) RCVS Specialist in Camelid Health & Production in February 2016. She is the current President of the British Veterinary Camelid Society.

Outside of work, Claire developed a ridiculous passion for long-distance cycling and triathlon and is a 3-time Ironman triathlete. However, this activity slowed down with the arrival of gorgeous daughter Grace in 2013! Claire still enjoys the three sports, albeit at a more sedate pace (!), as well as travelling and music.

Recognised RCVS Specialist in Camelid Health & Production – 2016

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, King’s College London – 2011

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Large Animal), The Ohio State University – 2005

Masters of Veterinary Sciences, The Ohio State University – 2005

Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh – 1999

  • Lieske CL, Whitehead CE, Walker P, Anderson DE, Morrow C, Volmer P and Meerdink G. (2003). Salinomycin toxicosis in alpacas. 42nd Meeting North Central Conference of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Minneapolis-St-Paul, MN
  • Whitehead CE, Anderson DE, Lakritz J. (2005) The Effect of Maternal Supplementation of Vitamin D on Transplacental and Transmammary Transfer to Neonatal Llamas and Alpacas. Masters Thesis, May 2005.
  • Whitehead CE and Anderson DE. (2006) Neonatal Diarrhea in Llamas and Alpacas. Small Ruminant Research, Special Issue on South American Camelids, Vol 61(2-3), pp 207-215.
  • Whitehead CE. Neonatal Diseases in Llamas and Alpacas. Vet Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice, Alpaca and Llama Health Management, Vol 25(2) July 2009.
  • Whitehead CE. Neonatal Management. Vet Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice, Alpaca and Llama Health Management, Vol 25(2) July 2009.
  • Whitehead CE, Bedenice D. Neurological Diseases in Llamas and Alpacas. Vet Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice, Alpaca and Llama Health Management, Vol 25(2) July 2009.
  • Rousseau M, Anderson DE, Miesner MD, Schulz KL, Whitehead CE. Scapulohumeral luxation in alpacas: 10 cases (2003-2009). JAVMA, Vol 237(10) November 15, 2010.
  • Hinton E, Whitehead CE, Wiktorowicz-Conroy, Hutchinson, Pfau T. Temporal gait parameters in the alpaca and the evolution of pacing and trotting locomotion in the camelidae. J Zoology, Vol 283, 2011.
  • Crosse P, English K, Whitehead CE, Ayling R, Szladovits B, Bradley D, Solano-Gallego L. First detection of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemolamae’ infection in alpacas in England. Veterinary Record, Vol 171 (3), 2012.
  • Whitehead CE. Diseases in Camelids. In Practice, Vol 35, June 2013.
  • Whitehead CE. Diseases in Camelids Part 2: Young Camelids – from birth to weaning. In Practice, volume 35, July/August 2013.
  • Gibson T, Whitehead CE, Taylor R, Sykes O, Chancellor NM, Limon G. Pathophysiology of penetrating captive bolt stunning in Alpacas (Vicugna pacos). Meat Science, Vol 100 (2015), pp 227-231.
  • Barker WH, Witte T, Driver C, Jull P, Whitehead CE, Volk H. Dorsinal laminectomy for treatment of cervical vertebral stenotic myelopathy in an alpaca. JAVMA, vol 246, pp1122-1128, 2015.
  • Bedenice D, Whitehead CE. Documented neurological diseases in camelids. Livestock, vol 21(6), pp376-383, 2016.
  • Whitehead CE. Pregnancy Diagnosis in Alpacas. Livestock, vol 22(6), 2017.
  • Whitehead CE, Anderson DE, Saville WJA. Retrospective analysis of 185 occurrences of clinical neurological signs in 181 South American camelids. J Vet Sci & Anim Husb, vol 6(1), 2018.
  • Infantes-Lorenzo JA, Whitehead CE, Moreno I, Bezos J, Roy A, Dominguez L, Domingues M, Salguero FJ. Development and evaluation of a serological assay for the diagnosis of tuberculosis in alpacas and llamas. Frontiers in Vet Science, vol 5, 189, 2018.
  • Whitehead CE, Batten CA, Brownlie J, Jackson B. Humoral Response to Bluetongue Vaccination in Alpacas. In preparation.

Teaching

  • Claire is actively involved in running courses for owners and vets interested in working with Camelid species. There are a selection of courses run a couple of times a year at our Clinic, but we can offer bespoke courses to suit your needs anywhere, including internationally, on virtually any aspect of Camelid medicine, health or production.
  • Recent Invited Speaking Engagements
    • March 2017: International Camelid Health Conference, Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon
      • Herd Health Planning for Camelid Herds – A Valuable Opportunity
      • Bovine TB in Camelids
      • Neonatal Critical Care in Private Practice
    • May 2017: Gain Confidence with Camelids. One day course, BVA CPD
    • October 2017: Krakow, Poland. A two day course for vets.
  • November 2017: The London Vet Show
    • Caring for Geriatric Camelids
  • January 2018: Virtual Congress
    • Essential Clinical Presentations of Camelids
  • April 2018: Limoges, France. A one day course on Veterinary Management of Camelids
  • April 2018: The Hague, Netherlands. European Veterinary Conference
    • The clinical approach to the sick alpaca
    • Clinical scenarios
    • Internal and external parasite problems of South American Camelids
    • Routine on-farm procedures
  • May 2018: Perugia, Italy. For SIVASZOO, the Italian branch of the European Association of Zoo & Wildlife Vets.
    • Introduction to Camelid medicine and the physical examination
    • Routine procedures
    • Camelid parasite issues
    • Dental management
    • Camelid emergencies including how to approach “the sick Camelid” patient
    • Anaesthesia in South American Camelids
    • Reproductive emergencies
    • Management of newborn crias
  • September 2018: Robson & Prescott veterinary practice, Morpeth, in-house CPD; A two day course on Veterinary Management of Camelids
  • October 2018: Damory Veterinary Clinic, Dorset, in-house CPD
    • Parasite control
    • Neonatal management
    • Vaccination strategies
    • Evening talk for clients on Alpaca Management and Common Problems
  • November 2018: Krakow, Poland. Birthing & Neonatal Course. A two-day course for vets and owners.

Research

  • General Research Interests
    • Neonatal medicine, neurological disease, skin problems, TB, semen evaluation and preservation
  • Selected Research Projects
    • The Effect of Maternal Supplementation of Vitamin D on Transplacental and Transmammary Transfer to Neonatal Llamas and Alpacas.
    • Neonatal Diarrhea in Llamas and Alpacas
    • Neurological disease in camelids
    • Bluetongue vaccination study that assessed antibody responses to the Bovilis BTV8 vaccine in alpacas. This was extremely helpful in terms of providing advice to camelid owners on the most appropriate vaccination regime for this disease in camelids.
    • Claire collaborated with colleagues at the University of Surrey in developing and evaluating a serological assay for the diagnosis of TB in alpacas.
    • Investigation of periparturient events and neonatal problems in UK alpacas.
    • Claire continues to supervise a number of student research projects
      • Gastrointestinal parasitism in UK alpacas
      • Welfare of alpacas during shearing
      • Effects of testicular size on breeding variables and success rates in alpacas
      • The use of a stall-side test of relaxin for pregnancy diagnosis in alpacas.
  • President, British Veterinary Camelid Society – since 2011
  • Venipuncture model: Claire developed a camelid Venipuncture model in conjunction with a model-builder in the United States using a grant from the Alpaca Research Foundation. One of these models is kept at our clinic and is a useful tool enabling students and vets to learn how to take jugular blood samples from camelids and how to place intravenous catheters without needing to practice on live animals.
  • Clinical interests: Claire’s interests revolve around camelid medicine and reproduction but are quite varied in this field. She is especially interested in Neonatal Medicine and Neurological Disease in camelids. She is also interested in Camelid reproductive problems, and has been taught how to perform embryo transfer in camelids by Jane Vaughan of Cria Genesis (Australia).
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