An ill horse stands next to his owner. The horse was diagnosed with African Horse Sickness (AHS).
Biruk suffered debilitating symptoms caused by African Horse Sickness (AHS).

Biruk’s story

Every day, Biruk the 12-year-old carthorse pulls a heavy cart of produce through uneven streets in Bishoftu, Ethiopia. It’s hot and unforgiving work for Biruk as he helps his owner, Debele, take his family’s produce to market to sell.

Recently, Biruk began dragging his feet and was struggling to keep his head up. By the end of Biruk’s gruelling day of work, the poor horse had become so lethargic that he barely had the strength to make the journey home.

Debele became increasingly worried. Biruk was now struggling to breathe and refusing to eat.

When Biruk started to show large, abnormal swelling above his eyes, it was clear he was in terrible pain.

A neighbour told Debele about SPANA so the young owner brought his beloved horse to our centre for treatment.

A horse stands next to his young owner and a SPANA vet, after receiving treatment for African Horse Sickness (AHS).
Biruk the horse stands next to his owner, Debele, and a SPANA vet after receiving treatment for African Horse Sickness (AHS).

At the Bishoftu centre, SPANA vets gave Biruk a full examination, and diagnosed him with African Horse Sickness (AHS). AHS is a deadly disease that is transmitted by midge bites and causes severe harm to a horse’s cardiovascular system. If left untreated, poor Biruk would have eventually succumbed to this terrible illness.

Our vets quickly administered pain relief to soothe Biruk’s symptoms, and anti-inflammatories to bring down the swelling and fever. To ensure he had sufficient rest and that his appetite and energy levels improved, the team hospitalised Biruk at the centre.

Most importantly, they vaccinated Biruk to help him build long-term immunity against AHS. To protect Biruk from other strains of the disease, the team advised that he should be vaccinated annually, preferably before the rainy season.

Thanks to SPANA’s intervention and diligent care, Biruk made a full recovery.

Will you please help other working animals like Biruk suffering from deadly diseases with a small donation today?

A vet cleans the wound of a horse suffering from habronemiasis. The horse's eyes appear crusty and sore and the animal struggled to keep its eyes open.
A horse struggles to keep its eyes open while being treated for an infectious disease.

Using innovation to prevent disease in working animals

Sadly, preventable diseases like AHS take the lives of many working animals. Humid environments can lead to an increased population of midges, allowing diseases to spread further.

We must continue to administer vaccinations, working in collaboration with local vets and the government to reach as many working animals as possible.

We also need to provide essential medicine to animals like Biruk who are suffering with infectious disease.

In Ethiopia, SPANA helped develop the national ‘revolving medicine scheme’ through extensive work alongside the local government. This innovative scheme ensures that a steady and sustainable supply of quality veterinary medicine and equipment is available for SPANA staff and their partners to purchase.

Furthermore, by distributing information and training to communities about recognising the signs of disease, we can reduce the spread and treat animals in the early stages of infection.

Only with your support can we continue to pioneer new work to treat and prevent disease. SPANA estimates that thousands of working animals are dying needlessly every year due to a lack of owner awareness, simple vaccinations, preventative measures and veterinary care.

We are committed to protecting as many working animals as possible. But we can’t do this without you.

With your support, our vets can continue carrying out vital work to ease the suffering of infected animals and prevent the spread of deadly disease. Will you please donate today? Thank you so much.

Thank you

Your generous donations will be used for projects such as those featured in this appeal and where they are required the most to help animals in need. We would be so grateful for whatever you can give to this vital infectious diseases appeal. Thank you.

To speak to our friendly supporter care team please visit our contact us page and get in touch.