FIGHTING RABIES: Dr Abbie McEwen and her Lismore Central Vet Clinic colleagues veterinary nurses Jessica Lock and Kay Doust, hold Himalayan felines Rupert and Elsie.
FIGHTING RABIES: Dr Abbie McEwen and her Lismore Central Vet Clinic colleagues veterinary nurses Jessica Lock and Kay Doust, hold Himalayan felines Rupert and Elsie. Alison Paterson

Lismore vets help fight rabies in Cambodia

WHILE some people choose to spend their summer holidays relaxing at the beach, a team of veterinary professionals from Lismore and Ballina are joining an international team heading to Cambodia on a self-funded trip to help eradicate the rabies virus which kills more people every year than malaria and dengue fever.

Lismore vet Dr Abbie McEwen, 28, said she and 11 colleagues were motivated to take the self-funded journey as up to 60 percent of victims of the rabies virus are children under the age of 15.

Fresh from her final malaria vaccination, Dr McEwen said she is looking forward to making a positive difference when the team who comprise current and past members of staff at the Lismore Central Veterinary Hospital and The Shores Veterinary Hospital in Ballina, will make their three week sojourn to Cambodia in mid-January 2017 to help eradicate this preventable virus.

"We are volunteer team of veterinarians and veterinary nurses and will join others from Australia and Italy in Cambodia for three weeks to volunteer with local animal organisations in outlying provinces,” she said.

"Human and animal health are inextricably linked and we want to help by providing animal health care, neutering and rabies vaccination services to street dogs and cats.”

Dr McEwen said canine rabies is completely preventable with vaccination for the animal and serum for the victim.

"We will also offer free vet services to underprivileged communities and provide education to children on disease prevention, safety and hygiene, and animal welfare,” she said.

"Our team would greatly appreciate any donations toward the purchase of veterinary supplies and educational materials. We are aiming to perform about 200 surgical procedures during our visit, and will thus need a lot of supplies.”

The team will work by partnering informally with organisations already working in Cambodia such as PPaws in Phnom Phen, Pagoda Cats on Siem Reap, and The Cambodian Children's Trust in Battembang, Dr McEwen said.

She said veterinary nurse Kay Doust and Dr Toni Kealy have already undertaken similar before and she is looking forward to joining them this time.

"We also have Jessica Lock who works with me, as Trinity College student Samara Barrett, and vet nurses Emily Shepardson from Brisbane and Amy Logue, as well as Dr Jemma Daniels from Tasmania, Dr Giada Faccili from Italy and Dr Bronwyn Davis from Sydney,” she said.

"My husband Anthony McDonald will also be there doing record keeping and helping us with the animals.”

Dr McEwan said if people wanted to assist, all donations will go directly to the projects and $5 would provide colouring pencils and educational heath, hygiene and animal behaviour resources for a child, $25 would provide a dog or a cat with three months of parasite control (fleas, ticks, mites and worms) and $50 would pay for a neuter operation to help reduce street dog and cat over-breeding.

Want to help go to https://chuffed.org/project/vets-to-cambodia-2017-rabies-campaign

Raffle tickets in the support of the Vets to Cambodia efforts are available at the Lismore Central Veterinary Hospital and Vet Love Ballina.



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