Nicaragua January 2015

From David Turoff,DVM
for HSVMA-RAVS and the Equitarian Intiative

Granada, Nicaragua
January 9th, 2015

Our team began arriving in Nicaragua on the 3rd and was fully assembled here in Granada by the 4th. This having been the site of the 5th annual Equitarian Workshop in October last year gave us the opportunity to import some of the needed supplies then, and we are this year mostly using equipment owned by Sustainable Vets International (SVI), so much of the hassle and delay usually occasioned by passing customs and agricultural inspection was avoided, and apart from weather-related travel delays, all went smoothly.

The veterinary team this year includes Drs. Raul Casas, Shelley Lenz, Sara Gomez, Stacy Tinkler, (all from the US), Ivette Pichinte (rom El Salvador), Fernanda Castro (from Mexico), and myself (David Turoff). We have this year two students from El Salvador, two from Honduras, two from the US, and six Nicaraguans (from the Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales, UCC, with which we are beginning what we hope will be an enduring collaboration). We are also fortunate to be joined by Lucy Bartlett, an American expat who has lived in Nicaragua for many years, and who actually was one of the people who originally invited RAVS to explore working here. She very ably and deftly handles all intake and general record-keeping functions on clinic days.

On the 5th, after organizing our inventory, we set off for the island of Ometepe, and made our way to Finca Magadalena, a large hostel centrally located on the island, and spent the afternoon and evening with presentations to the students in anticipation of the clinical work to follow. Dr Castro discussed field anesthesia, Dr Casas covered field surgery, I talked about dentistry, and Drs Tinkler and Gomez went through the differential diagnosis and treatment protocols available for anemia, which is an almost ubiquitous problem in Central America, due to many factors, including, but not limited to, EIA, Babesia, ectoparisitism, endoparasitism, bat bites, and marginal nutrition. Dr Gomez has been doing some very interesting research on this issue, and presented her results so far.

The first work day, the 6th, was in the community of La Concha, our third year there, and we saw the usual range of cases (dental interventions, castrations and other surgeries, wounds, saddle sores, bat bites, etc), in over 100 patients, with no major problems. The second day, on the 7th, was in La Palma, our fifth year there, with again over 100 patients and the usual types of cases, and again in Balgue on the 8th, our sixth year there, with the same results.

SVI is well along in establishing a permanent veterinary presence on Ometepe, so our schedule here was briefer than in previous years, so that we can use the available time and resources to expand into new territory on the mainland (more about that in a later blog post)

We have changed also our castration protocol to the use of the “Equitwister”, a hand-operated version of the Henderson tool, with design modifications by Dr Jimmy Haffner (of Christian Veterinary Mission), and Dr Tracy Turner (of the Equitarian Initiative), and as observed previously in Honduras, it is a huge improvement over both the Henderson tool itself, and traditional emasculator castrations. In the approximately 25 castrations done on the island there were no complications at all, anesthesia times were shortened considerably, and the technique is easy for the students to learn.

One great advantage of the Equitwister is that potentially it can be manufactured at low cost in host countries, in contrast to the $400-$600 cost of a high quality traditional Riemer or Serra emasculator.

Today we returned to our home base at the hostel “El Momento”, in Granada, to prepare to leave tomorrow for Managua, and two new work sites there, and then on to the area of Leon, where we will work at three new sites. Dr Mark Anderson (from Arizona), a veteran of last year’s Equitarian Initiative project in Costa Rica, arrived also today, to replace Dr Tinkler, as she returns to other responsibilities in the US.

Internet access here this year is sporadic and unreliable (hence this composite of what otherwise would be daily posts), and should be better in Managua, but I’m uncertain how that will be in the Leon area, where we will be in genuine “back-country”; I’ll do my best to keep up with it :~)

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