Working animals are dying alone and in agony as a result of highly contagious diseases. An outbreak of equine influenza spread rapidly in West Africa over the beginning of the year, and epizootic lymphangitis (EZL) continues to be endemic in East Africa. These infectious diseases are causing untold suffering to thousands of innocent, hardworking animals. You can help deliver lifesaving treatment to infected animals and help stop the spread of disease today.
Life isn’t easy for Dama. For eight hours a day, seven days a week, the 10-year-old horse tirelessly pulls a heavy cart over the dry and rocky roads of rural Ethiopia.
Without his trusty horse, 22-year-old Digave would have little hope of earning an adequate living. After the passing of Digave’s parents, Dama is the lifeline that enables him to send his four younger siblings to school each day. When the horse began to develop a collection of ulcers below his left eye, Digave’s heart sank.
This was a tell-tale sign of a crippling fungal infection, EZL, that the young owner had witnessed in other horses in the community.
In the oppressive Ethiopian heat, contagious disease spreads fast. EZL can affect up to 30 per cent of cart horses in certain regions, leaving thousands in pain, miserable and too exhausted to work. Many infected animals are too sick to work and are left abandoned. Their final days are agonising.
If Dama had to stop working Digave knew he could no longer afford to keep him. Thankfully, a neighbour told Digave where he could find help. Our dedicated vet team runs a weekly clinic exclusively for EZL infected horses to help protect other animals from contracting the disease, and relieve them from their pain and suffering.
Our vets were on hand to help
When our vets met Dama he was standing very still, his head lowered and his eyes glazed over. Dama’s face was covered in excruciating ulcers that he was not able to soothe himself. Being in constant pain was clearly causing him severe distress.
The vet gently cleaned and disinfected the wounds and gave the horse potassium iodide to kill off the infection. Digave was shown how to keep the lesions clean and continue administering the course of treatment. The vet also explained how the owner must stop other horses from catching the contagious disease. We gave Digave a clean new headband for Dama along with basic cleaning supplies to keep his equipment and living quarters disinfected. Dama was also given his own water container to drink out of while he was recovering, as drinking from communal tanks could easily pass on the infection to other horses.
Digave did a good job of caring for his horse, and when the pair returned two weeks later, Dama was in brighter spirits. Without intervention, Dama would have continued to suffer unimaginable pain while the cruel disease was slowly taking his life.