The American Fondouk (Fez, Morocco) is a charitable equine hospital that provides veterinary care to working animals. The director of the American Fondouk, Dr. Gigi Kay, has noticed that donkey and mule patients frequenting the hospital are expressing clinical signs of Dictyocaulus arnfieldi infection when, traditionally, this lung parasite is associated with overt clinical signs in horses only. Because decreased productivity from parasitic disease in working animals has detrimental economic implications for their impoverished owners, being able to concretely correlate clinical signs of D. arnfieldi infection with actual infection in non-traditional equine hosts will allow the hospital to treat donkeys and mules with evidence-based medicine, and minimize the financial stress on owners with afflicted animals. The intent of this project is to collect Baermannized fecal samples for microscopic analysis of the presence of L3 larvae, to compare pathogenicity of D. arnfieldi between hosts. Additionally, because of my interest in non-profit and international veterinary medicine, the clinical experience I gain working at the American Fondouk will serve as an invaluable resource in helping me better understand the needs of the communities in which veterinary non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operate.
About the American Fondouk
The American Fondouk (associated with the MSPCA) is a full-service, charitable equine hospital located in Fez that provides free veterinary care to working Moroccan animals, especially donkeys, mules, and horses (American Fondouk, 2013). It has grown a reputation intra- and inter-nationally for treating all types of working equids in underprivileged communities. As a non-profit veterinary hospital, it faces many financial and political challenges, but despite its limited resources, the hospital continues to provide critical medical care to over 20,000 animals that walk through its doors each year. The services extended by the hospital to disadvantaged regions with areas of equid utilization are not only essential in maintaining the economic health of the community to which these animals belong, but also in improving human livelihoods (Berkat and Tazi, 2004; Kay, 2007).
About the importance of working animals in Morocco
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture still contributes to a significant portion of Morocco’s Gross Domestic Product at 17% despite the country’s tremendous development and urbanization over the past three decades (Berkat and Tazi, 2004). Agriculture itself provides employment to half the active labor force, and those who work within the agriculture industry continue to rely on working animals for draught power, transportation, income generation, and food security (FAO, 2013). More specifically to Fez, there are an estimated 100,000 people whose livelihoods depend on working equids (Orlean, 2009). In addition to being important as farm power, equids...