Jonathan’s corneal ulcer threatens his sight

A SPANA vet applies ointment to a donkey's injured eye in Ethiopia

Jonathan’s corneal ulcer threatens his sight

Jonathan the donkey was suffering from a painful corneal ulcer when he visited SPANA’s mobile clinic in rural Ethiopia. Our vets would need to work quickly to soothe the distressed animal’s pain and save his sight.

Jonathan the donkey could no longer keep his left eye open in the bright sunlight of southern Ethiopia. Over the course of a few days, his eye had become increasingly painful and his vision blurred. Now, the six-year-old donkey could barely see out of this eye, which was visibly inflamed and weeping.  

The usually healthy young donkey works long days alongside his young owner, Abdisa, who uses the animal to help his parents transport goods to market and plough the land. 

When Abdisa collected Jonathan to travel to market, he noticed that his donkey was distressed and uncomfortable, frantically rubbing his face against his own leg to try to soothe the pain in his swollen eye. Abdisa already knew all about SPANA’s work having attended animal welfare classes run by the charity at his school. During these lessons, he had learned how to keep Jonathan healthy and about SPANA’s mobile veterinary clinics. Most importantly, he learned that when a donkey becomes ill or injured, they need to see a vet as quickly as possible. 

A donkey with weeping and discharge as a result of a corneal ulcer

Despite his best efforts to clean Jonathan’s eyes with water, the swelling needed professional attention. Thankfully, the SPANA mobile clinic was visiting the area and, as soon as it arrived, Jonathan and Abdisa were there to meet the team and get the treatment Jonathan urgently needed to save his sight.  

Our vets gently examined the area around Jonathan’s eye, as well as the surface of the cornea, to determine the cause of his discomfort. They quickly diagnosed a severe corneal ulcer, possibly caused by a stick or debris blown into his eye. Left untreated, the ulcer would become even more painfulleading to possible scarring or even a rupture.  

Fortunatelythere is a straightforward treatment for this requiring a combination of topical antibiotic eye ointment and an anti-inflammatory medication, which Abdisa was given to administer at homeThe treatment provided clear relief to Jonathan – he seemed calmer as soon as the soothing ointment was applied to the inflamed area. With Abdisa’s continued carethe problem was successfully treated and Jonathan regained his vision fully.

A SPANA vet examines a donkey's corneal ulcer in Ethiopia

This vital intervention prevented permanent damage to Jonathan’s eye, but it also reinforced in Abdisa a greater understanding of the importance of good husbandry, and the need to closely monitor his donkey’s health and seek help when problems arise. 

Our mobile clinics are providing essential treatment to working animals, but the advice being offered by our vets is also improving the knowledge and skills of owners like Abdisa, ensuring they can better care for their animals. Alongside our humane education programmes, this work is helping to ensure that many more working animals can lead healthier and more comfortable lives.  

 

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