Sabana Grande, Nicaragua
Through the International Summer Externship Travel Fund, I had the opportunity to travel to Sabana Grande, Nicaragua in June 2013. I was part of team of 12 UC Davis SVM students, who worked on a One Health project within the community of Sabana Grande.
Last summer (June 2012), a group from the Students for One Health organization (SOH) on campus traveled to this community and gathered preliminary data in order to better understand the veterinary needs of Sabana Grande. Using the data from last year’s group, our 2013 summer trip focused on four specific areas: education and public health, the environment and wildlife, poultry, and livestock. I was involved with the livestock branch, and focused my efforts towards understanding the relationship that exists between livestock and the people, but also the health concerns surrounding livestock.
In order to better understand the role livestock (specifically cattle) played within the community my colleagues and I, first interviewed livestock owners. These interviews provided us with imperative insights regarding health concerns, husbandry techniques, but also shed light to common management practices implemented within the community. Additionally, we conducted physical exams on cattle in order to gather baseline information regarding the health status of these animals. Last year’s team also determined that pour-on anti-parasitics were commonly used on livestock; however, ectoparasites and "un-thriftiness" of these animals were amongst the top concerns of the community. As a result, in conjunction to physical exams, we also performed fecal exams in order to assess the parasite load of the animals. Lastly, during our trip in June, we conducted two workshops for the animal and human health care workers of the community, on five topics they had previously expressed wanting to learn more about.
My experience in Nicaragua this summer was unlike any other! I had previously traveled abroad, but this was my first experience traveling to and actually living within a truly rural community. A unique aspect of my externship experience was the opportunity to live with home-stay families for the duration of our trip. Having this opportunity allowed me to truly immerse myself within the daily life of the family that I had the pleasure of staying with. Through my home-stay family, I learned more about the Nicaraguan culture and feel as though I came away with a newfound appreciation for the people within this community.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua this summer and be part of this One Health project! Thank you, International Externship Programs!