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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

IVSA Nicaragua trip a success

October 12th, 2010

IVSA students and faculty on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua

The OSU International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA) has returned from the 4th annual veterinary service trip to Ometepe Island in Nicaragua, just in time for the start of a new school year. The temporary clinic, hosted in coordination with a local hostel, operated for five days and treated over 700 animals this year—99 of which were returning patients! The clinic offered large and small animal wellness exams, small animal spays and neuters (dogs and cats), large animal castrations (horses and pigs), equine dentals and farms calls. Supervising the operation were eight veterinarians, including faculty members Drs. Montilla, Pearson, Tornquist, and Vanegas, and clinical pathology resident Dr. Rigas. Twenty- four OSU vet students (that’s over 10% of the CVM student body), two pre-vet students, four Nicaraguan vet students and one Nicaraguan veterinarian also participated.

One noteworthy development to this year’s trip was the planning and implementation of three fully funded research projects, thanks to the support of Dr. Bermudez and others in the CVM community. This initiative will help IVSA realize the goal of identifying and researching real and perceived problems in animal and public health within the target community and developing practical, sustainable solutions to these problems. Additionally, IVSA offered a community public health seminar on zoonotic diseases and proper hand washing technique which was well attended and very well received. Both research and public health education will be expanded upon in the years to come.

Student fundraising and charitable donations helped offset some of the costs inherent in a group effort of this size, though the remainder of the funding comes from each individual student or veterinarian. The trip received amazing support from the Oregon Veterinary community, including thousands of dollars worth of donated supplies from all over our great state! OSU student representatives and their corporate counterparts also rallied to get funding and donations of supplies, drugs, leashes, and more. Thank you IDEXX, Bayer, Banfield, Summit, CP Medical, Farnam, Bimeda, Pfizer, Intervet/Schering Plough, Purina and everyone else that contributed to our cause! Also, special thanks to Norm Hutton (former associate dean and interim dean of the college) for his support of our trip.

IVSA’s fundamental mission is to offer quality veterinary care and public health education to areas in need, while encouraging students to gain practical experience, participate in cultural exchange, and share their gained knowledge with the greater OSU CVM community.  With this ambitious goal in mind each year, this entirely student driven project continues to grow and build on past successes with constant attention to future development.

As the people of Ometepe (and other developing communities) rely on their animals for food, transportation, and work, the suboptimal condition of these animals directly impacts the people and their livelihood. Companion animals also suffer from malnourishment and diseases, many of which are transmissible to their human families. It is the goal of IVSA to provide medical interventions that will improve their health and demonstrate the value of proper animal health care. This rural island community does not have regular access to veterinary care and the community looks forward to the arrival of the enthusiastic OSU student brigade each year.

Although planning and implementing an international service trip in the midst of being full-time veterinary students can be challenging, the rewards of the experience far outweigh the difficulties encountered along the way. The realization that we have what it takes to truly make a difference in the lives of other living beings is a powerful motivator to continue our work. IVSA invites you to step beyond your boundaries and join us next year in Nicaragua.

IVSA will host lunch presentations on Oct. 20 detailing the Nicaragua trip, and a series of case presentations from the trip in Magruder 102. Please come and learn about our experience!

Click here for a wonderful slide show of the trip by Dr. Laxineta. For more information on IVSA, click here.

—Kathleen Kraska, 2013

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