On behalf of the Oregon State University International Veterinary Students’ Association, we would like to invite you to participate in our ninth annual trip to provide veterinary care to the community of Merida on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.

Ometepe, a volcano located within Lake Nicaragua, is currently home to an estimated 10,000 rural families and 41,000 dogs, in addition to countless pigs, cows, horses and chickens. This is a community that relies on the wellbeing of their livestock and working animals for their own wellbeing.

Minimal veterinary care is available for small animals (no castration and few vaccines), and there is little veterinary care or husbandry advice available to the back-yard food animal producer (most families on the island would fall into this category). In addition, zoonoses are a problem due to the close quarters and lack of good hygiene practices. These risks threaten both the inhabitants of Ometepe as well as the impressions of the visiting tourists, who are a critical source of income for the island.

In response to this need, the student members of the IVSA at Oregon State University have organized and executed a program for the last 8 years to supply veterinary care to the community of Merida. Our upcoming trip in August of 2015 is a continuation of our effort to build a sustainable, annual trip that serves to eventually provide a healthier environment for both humans and animals. Our vision includes community education, spay and neuter clinics, tick-born disease treatment, wellness exams and preventive medical care for both large and small animals. We make our best effort to provide high quality medicine, yet with the conditions and supplies that we have in Nicaragua, flexibility and improvisation are a must. In the end, we believe improved public health practices and veterinary care will, over time, translate to better health, more economic success and greater productivity for the local people.

In addition to the contributions we hope to make to the community of Ometepe, the experience of running the clinics offers students an unparalleled opportunity to develop clinical skills and practical experience in an economically challenged community. While the trip is 100% student organized, funded and executed, we are in need of veterinarians to partner with us in our endeavors. In Nicaragua we need veterinarians to supervise and educate OSU students in diagnosis, treatment, and surgery; as well as perform surgeries and procedures as needed. Spanish proficiency is a big plus, and we would be delighted to have small animal, equine and food animal practitioners available to the community this year.

Participating veterinarians are vital to the continuation and development of this project. Even if you are unavailable on the dates in question, we always welcome input in the planning process. If you have any further questions or would like to speak with veterinarians or students who have participated in the past, do not hesitate to contact us at OregonIVSA@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!