Doing surgery on a kitchen table!
Since our return from Queen Elizabeth we've been staying on campus at Makerere and working with Dr. Berna of the Uganda SPCA. It's been an interesting couple of days and it certainly makes us grateful for all of the amenities that we have available in Canada! We began our week traveling around Kampala visiting the USPCA foster homes vaccinating, deworming and helping with spays and neuters. It’s certainly different to be doing spays on a kitchen table or even outside on the deck! The instruments are “sterilized” with some boiling water and other than that the procedure is not very aseptic. Each animal receives antibiotics at the end and Berna says they all seem to do quite well. Certainly different than what we do at home!
For those that are interested: we used injectables (of course)- for a dog spay we gave a combination of xylazine IM premed and thiopental IV induction. The neuters received Xylazine and Ketamine IM. Since none of the animals were fasted the side effect of vomiting from the xylazine was probably a good thing, especially since there was definitely no intubation taking place! The recovery is about 2 hours and many of the animals needed a top up partway through so I was very happy that I got lots of practice giving IV injections this summer since I was often doing them on a moving animal and upside down! I was very impressed to see that the animals also received an injection of Meloxicam in addition to the Amoxicillin. Apparently she recently had a donation of a few bottles so hopefully that will continue.
As part of our work with the KSPCA we also visited a small town outside Kampala called Namasuba. We spent one day walking around finding all the dogs and cats and vaccinating them and the other day they held a spay/ neuter clinic and we neutered a few dogs while the vet did a couple of spays. The animals here are mainly kept for protection and definitely wouldn’t fit the home definition of pets. Most of them live in raised wooden boxes that look somewhat like rabbit hutches and people seem a bit scared of them. Due to funding and lack of people the last time the USPCA visited this community was in 2003 so that’s the last time any of these animals received veterinary care and many of them had all sort of old injuries that definitely looked uncomfortable. It was certainly disheartening but it was nice that we were able to be there to help and it was also very encouraging to see a few people who you could tell genuinely loved their animals.
Overall our visit to the USPCA was an awesome experience. We not only got to learn a great deal about many of the issues faced by the vets in Kampala but also got to contribute what little we could- both in experience and donated supplies. It was really cool to be seeing some of the diseases and issues that we learn about at home but don’t really encounter very frequently and it was also neat to get to see some of the city.
Tomorrow we’re taking a little bit of a break to go rafting on the Nile before heading to Tanzania for the last leg of our trip. It’s hard to believe we’ve been gone from home for 5 weeks already, it’s definitely been an adventure. Hope everyone is still doing well at home and keep the updates coming. We seem to have fairly regular e-mail access. Sending e-mails has been challenging sometimes with really slow connections but I’m receiving all of them and always excited to hear the news! If anyone else wants a postcard please send me an e-mail with your address. Hopefully some of you will be receiving yours soon!
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