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“A Healthy Yak is a Happy Yak!”
In the spring of 2009, Dr. Lance S. Fox, a veterinarian from the United States, ventured to the top of our world’s highest point, the summit of Mount Everest. While at Mount Everest base camp preparing to climb to the summit, Dr. Fox dewormed some of the Nepalese yaks used to carry equipment from the lower villages in the Khumbu region. This was made possible by the generous donation of Safe Guard from Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health. Not only did Dr. Fox administer the product himself, but he also taught Phurba Tashi Sherpa, an 18-time Everest Summiteer, how to administer the Safe Guard. This yak clinic made possible follow-up doses to be administered approximately 6 weeks later.
In July 2009, one month after returning home to the United States, Dr. Fox received information explaining that of the 200 animals treated, the female yaks were making more milk! This is the reason why he has decided to go back to this region in 2011.
There are thousands of yaks living in the area, but only about 2500 yaks live and work at the altitude and the target area encompassed by this proposal. Veterinary care in this remote part of Nepal is almost nonexistent.
From April 7 to April 22, 2011 a team of veterinarians (Dr. Fox, Dr. Andrew Skidmore, Dr. Claire Windeyer, and Dr. Kristen Obbink) conducted 9 yak health clinics in villages along the trekking route from where expeditions begin in Lukla, Nepal to base camp at Mount Everest. At each of the clinics, all of the yaks in the village were dewormed and field parasitology exams were conducted to document parasite prevalence. The local yak owners were also educated about the importance of proper deworming, as well as how doing it themselves (a follow-up dose was left behind). Intervet/Schering-Plough had once again kindly donated 3,000 doses of Safe Guard for the 2011 project.
The thanks of Dr. Lance S. Fox:
Thank you to all the donors who made Healthy Yak 2011 possible. Special recognition goes out to Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health for the product, Dr. Garrett Oetzel of the University of Wisconsin-School of Veterinary Medicine for loaning the field parasitology kits, Mr. Russell Brice of Himalayan Experience Ltd. for arranging all of the logistics in Nepal, and to my veterinary colleagues aforementioned for joining me and donating their time, money, and expertise to promote the project’s success.