Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dutch problem in Africa

African buffalos carry many diseases. They do not get ill themselves, but they can infect more vulnerable cattle with disasterous results. Therefore in most regions in South Africa (west of Kruger NP) it is only allowed to keep African buffalos free of the main South African contagious diseases: Tuberculosis, brucella, East Coast Fever and Foot and Mouth. These 'disease free buffalos' are very popular. Therefore the price for a disease free buffalo can go up to approximately 30.000 euros (more than a white rhino!) Over the years raising African buffalo calfs disease free has been very popular: these calfs are taken away from their diseased mothers and raised by disease free Jersey cows to make sure they stay healthy. The motherhood skills of these Jersey cows are very good: they always adopt the calfs easily. Because of this disease free buffalo raising we have a lot of Jersey cows here. My first day at work, I diagnosed a very common disease in cattle the Netherlands, but never expected to find it here: a displaced stomach. Wild bovines and local cattle will never get this problem as the high concentrated diet of domestic cattle (to get them to produce milk) has a big influence in the cause of this problem. The normal position of the stomach (abomasum) of a cow is at the lowest part of the abdomen. Gas or too much space in the belly (after giving birth) can cause the stomach to go up and the gas will keep it at the upper part of the abdomen. This creates stomach pain and the cow will stop eating. In the end she will always die. So, the first day at work in Africa I did a very common Dutch operation: putting the stomach back into place and stitching it into to the abdominal wall so that the stomach will stay in place. The African people could not believe their eyes how I, a foreign white female with much less muscles than them, got this cow on her back (an easy and funny trick; will tell you later) and opened her belly to find the stomach. It was hilarious to see these African surprised faces!

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