A severely malnourished horse being treated by SPANA Morocco

Rehana was close to death when cart driver Hassan found her at a local horse market. Read how the SPANA team managed to nurse the fragile animal back to health.

A severely malnourished horse being treated by SPANA Morocco

When 30-year-old Hassan first saw Rehana for sale in a local animal market in Morocco, he couldn’t believe how frail and sickly the mare looked. He took pity on the malnourished animal, hoping that with the right care and attention, it might be possible to nurse her back from the brink of death.

Hassan knew that the only people who could help her were the vets at SPANA, so he took Rehana straight from the market to the clinic. SPANA vet Dr Youness was shocked at the state of the animal and the team began by trying to get to the bottom of Rehana’s extreme weight loss. The vets noticed that her lower jaw was swollen and painful. Upon closer inspection, they identified an abscess across the length of her cheek. The injury, possibly the result of a kick from another horse, had become badly infected and now Rehana was running a life-threatening temperature of 40 degrees Celsius.

To complicate matters, Rehana’s entire body was covered in tiny eggs, a tell-tale sign of a botfly infestation.  Her lower legs were covered in cuts and bruises which had become badly infected.

A severely malnourished horse being treated by SPANA Morocco

The team first dealt with the rampant parasites which was causing the worst of the malnourishment. They administered dewormer, painkillers and antibiotics for the wounds after they were cleaned and dressed.

Although the dewormer effectively kills the larvae in the animal’s intestine, it wouldn’t address the thousands of eggs covering Rehana’s body. For that, the vets showed Hassan how to remove the eggs with a simple disposable razor and asked him to perform this task every day for three days until Rehana could be brought in for her next deworming treatment. Hassan promised to follow the treatment plan religiously and true to his word, three days later, he brought Rehana back for her second deworming treatment.

A severely malnourished horse being treated by SPANA Morocco

His diligent removal of eggs had already dramatically reduced the infestation. Meanwhile, the antibiotics and anti-inflammatories had brought down the jaw swelling and with it, Rehana’s fever. She was able to eat again for the first time in weeks and was already beginning to put on weight. This was great news for the vets who couldn’t operate on the infected abscess in her jaw until she was strong enough to withstand the effects of anaesthetic.

Despite the odds stacked against her, Rehana is expected to make a full recovery. Thanks to Hassan’s kindness and patience, as well as the support of the SPANA team, Rehana has been saved from a short and painful life.

With no other medical facilities available to low-income communities in Africa, many animals like Rehana would have no hope of survival. But, as SPANA’s presence grows across the world, owners are realising that emergency intervention and preventative care can make all the difference for their animals’ welfare.

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