Members of Alpha company 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion collaborated with the 353rd Civil Affairs Functional Specialty Team, and other volunteers, to conduct a Herd Health Veterinarian Engagement in the village of Chabelley, August 3-4, 2022.
This was the first partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture to provide the Peste de Petite Ruminants (PPR) vaccine to goats and sheep that were affected with the Goat and Sheep Plague, a disease that can kill 40-60% of affected herds. PPR is a highly contagious animal disease affecting domestic and wild small ruminants. The U.S. medics also provided vitamins, insecticide sprays and a dewormer.
“Herd health equals human health, and human health equals security and peace in all the nations around the world,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. Rebecca Pavlicek, Naval Medical Research Unit 3 microbiologist. “We are doing these veterinary engagements to make sure their sheep and goats are healthy so that they can feed their families, with that comes generational wealth and security.”
Service members also conducted PPR testing to monitor prevalence of the disease and to monitor the progress of the campaign. Herders were welcome to bring any sick or injured goats for field treatment.
“Today was a huge milestone,” said U.S. Army Maj. Sage Umphries, 353rd Civil Affairs Command’s functional specialty team veterinary officer. “I was here five years ago, and we were having similar problems with the goats and sheep getting sick. The sheep seem to be mainly the carriers of the PPR disease, but the goats are the ones who get very sick. It causes upper respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea and rapid dehydration. They can die anywhere within 24 to 48 hours of showing symptoms.
“We started this initiative about six months ago and have since reduced the number of these animals dying as much as we can,” Umphries continued. “I know I’m making a difference in someone's life here and I feel intense satisfaction over the work we’re doing here.”
The medicine provided by the U.S. military will greatly improve the resiliency of livestock in the face of the current drought and make Djibouti food sources more secure in the future.
“We are currently in the worst drought in the last 40 years, which is leading to a lot of stress on the animals,” said Pavlicek. “The food they’re receiving is not as mineral and vitamin dense as it usually is. So this boost we’re providing them will help get them through the next couple months. These current months are very critical for both the survival of the animals and the humans.”
This partnership was made possible by the Ministry of Agriculture requesting the U.S. Army to provide support in administering their stockpile of 750,000 doses of PPR vaccines.