Abraham’s excruciating brush with EZL

A donkey is brought to the SPANA mobile clinic with EZL and mouth ulcers

Abraham’s excruciating brush with EZL

Abraham the donkey’s skin was covered in painful ulcers, which were spreading across his neck, chest and legs. He was in clear discomfort and was suffering.

A donkey is brought to the SPANA mobile clinic with EZL and mouth ulcers

Abraham, a working donkey in Ethiopia, had developed ulcers across his body. His owner, Tasew, had noticed the emergence of skin nodules – or small growths – along which the ulcers and abscesses had formed, which refused to heal. Eight-year-old Abraham, who is usually in good health, had deteriorated in a matter of days and now urgently needed veterinary assistance.

Tasew depends entirely on Abraham for survival. In this remote region of Ethiopia, Abraham means everything to his young owner – vital for transport and for carrying agricultural goods that enable Tasew to earn a small income. Abraham is well fed and is given plenty of rest and breaks throughout the working day.

Until the SPANA mobile clinic arrived in the area, Tasew had attempted to treat Abraham himself. Every morning, he gently washed Abraham’s painful sores and used a homemade cream to try and soothe him. But now, a week later, the skin wounds had spread further and this was a cause of great concern.

Tasew counted down the days until he could meet the SPANA team at our mobile clinic, and was waiting as soon as they arrived. Our vets were instantly able to diagnose a case of Epizootic lymphangitis, which would require immediate and ongoing treatment if the donkey was to have any hope of recovery.

A donkey is brought to the SPANA mobile clinic with EZL and mouth ulcers

Epizootic lymphangitis, commonly referred to as EZL, is a serious condition that is prevalent in Ethiopia, where it is thought to affect up to 30 per cent of the working equine population. Although it is found most commonly in horses, donkeys and mules can become infected as well. The highly contagious infection spreads quickly across the lymphatic system and causes agonising skin nodules that can rupture into burning ulcers. Without treatment, EZL causes excruciating pain, and some forms of the disease can be fatal, attacking the respiratory system and internal organs of the animal.

Thankfully, if caught early enough, EZL can be treatable – and our vets started treating Abraham immediately. They first cleaned and shaved the area around the nodules before opening them to release the infection. Next, they bathed the ulcers with an antiseptic treatment, which would combat the infection.

SPANA vets rasp a donkey's teeth

Tasew was given a supply of the medication and was shown how to gently clean and administer the treatment every day for the next six weeks. He learned that EZL is easily transmitted between animals when they come into contact with each other and wait outside busy markets. This knowledge will help Tasew to protect Abraham from become infected again or from spreading an infection in the future. Tasew was overwhelmed with relief. He said: ‘I am very happy for the support from SPANA and I hope my donkey will recover soon.’

Thanks to SPANA’s mobile clinics and continued efforts to combat the devastating impact of EZL, thousands of animals just like Abraham have a fighting chance of survival. Thank you for making our work possible.

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