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12-10-2009 - Veterinarians leave their mark on African nation

Veterinarians leave their mark on African nation

Into Africa Veterinarians Without Borders provided much-needed animal health care and owner education in Liberia.

College friends went as part of Veterinarians Without Borders program

Dr. Arlene F. Gardsbane brought about 350 doses of donated rabies vaccine from Merial on her trip to Liberia. The small animal veterinarian held rabies clinics throughout Liberia's capitol, Monrovia, for locals' pets. Dr. Beth A. Miller, a large animal practitioner, accompanied her on the mission. For a little more than two weeks the pair analyzed the country's needs relating to animal health care, disease prevention, and wildlife protection.

There Dr. Beth A. Miller stood, looking at a goat with an untreated corneal ulcer and secondary bacterial infection. The former mixed animal practitioner lacked proper instruments or diagnostic equipment, let alone antimicrobial ointment. All she could do was advise that the goat be put in the shade and given some food.

"Left untreated it could lead to blindness, but it probably was not a huge priority for the owner because she probably didn't have enough money to feed her daughter," Dr. Miller said.

This was how the Arkansas-based veterinarian spent part of her summer—observing the conditions of animals in the African nation of Liberia. Dr. Miller (LSU '86) stayed a little more than two weeks this summer with her friend and fellow Louisiana State University alumna, Dr. Arlene F. Gardsbane (LSU '87), of Silver Spring, Md.

The pair was sponsored by the nonprofit organization Veterinarians Without Borders and hosted by Liberia's Ministry of Agriculture. They spent their time visiting government agencies, private farms, urban areas, and remote villages to gather data and identify immediate needs related to animal health care, disease prevention, and wildlife protection. Their goal is to raise awareness and funding to establish veterinary services in Liberia that will enable the country to produce its own food and protect its resources and human health.

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