There is limited access to veterinary care on the island of Ometepe, yet there is a great need. The overpopulation of domestic dogs on Ometepe pose a public health risk to the indigenous communities by increasing the animal-to-human transfer of diseases, such as toxoplasmosis and leptospirosis. In addition, there have been recent reports of an increase in giarda-related illnesses among locals and tourists. Additionally, large populations of nuisance feral animals have a negative impact on tourism, a critical source of income for many people on Ometepe. These communities also depend heavily upon the wellbeing of their domestic livestock and working animals to help sustain their lifestyle, especially with regard to transportation, agriculture and food.
Annually since 2007, a group of veterinarians and veterinary students from Oregon State University in the United States has traveled to Ometepe for 10 days to provide quality veterinary care and to promote sound animal husbandry techniques to local citizens. We will be hosting this group again in 2014. The group offers preventative health measures to dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs and goats. They also provide treatment for bacterial infections, abscesses, minor wounds, and similar basic wellness issues. Additionally, the group offers a limited number of spay and neuter surgeries to clients requesting them. All functions of the veterinary clinic are overseen by US licensed veterinarians with students taking an active role in performing the procedures.
Currently, the group of veterinarians and veterinary students from Oregon State University comes to the island one time per year to offer these invaluable services to the people and animals on Ometepe Island. In the future, the Fundación Ometepe would like to see these services offered at least four times per year. The current veterinary brigade has helped foster a connection between the students and faculty of Oregon State University and the citizens of Ometepe. The trip offers students a valuable hands-on experience working alongside their professors providing quality veterinary care in a location where it is greatly needed and valued. The following is a list of the program goals compiled by Oregon State University.
As you can see, the benefits of this cross-cultural experience are positive, valuable and educational for all involved. These goals prove the significance and impact of the veterinary brigades for not only the people and animals of Ometepe Island, but also the veterinarians and veterinary students. If you are interested in starting a veterinary brigade with your college or university of veterinary medicine or your veterinary practice, please read the following information about the steps required to organize a brigade.
Trips and veterinary brigades can be tailored to fit the needs of the party involved. For example, tourist activities on Ometepe Island and in Nicaragua can be organized. Also, local Nicaraguan veterinarians can also be contracted to assist with the brigade
Below are sample documents of letters and information that is needed for veterinary brigades that plan to visit Nicaragua. This involves the administrative procedures at customs.
More information can be found at: http://oregonstate.edu/groups/ivsa/index.htm
Pet Talk: Reaching beyond Oregon to help animals
OregonLive, January 5, 2010
Students seek donations for Nicaragua trip, Gazette-Times
Veterinary care for Nicaraguan pets, The Daily Barometer