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The Knights Landing One Health Clinic

Words by Joelle Sweeney  |  Photos by Trina Wood


Students of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine joined the School of Medicine students to offer free healthcare services to an underserved community in rural California. They have established a monthly One Health Clinic that integrates animal health with human health, while considering environment and life-style of the ‘family unit.’ The ‘family unit’ is defined as the human, animal, environment/household, and lifestyle that contribute to the health and wellbeing of the individuals. During these monthly clinics, the veterinary clinic provides wellness care and preventative medicine, such as vaccines, parasite prevention, and education to empower the family unit to take charge of their own health. Presently, the veterinary clinic serves over 100 families and over 200 pets.

At the end of each clinical day, the veterinarians and physicians come together to exchange their ideas and brainstorm on how to improve healthcare for the family unit. This fosters open communication to develop a One Health Clinic model that addresses the needs of animals, people, and the environment. They discuss cases of interest as well as pre-arranged topics like zoonotic diseases, environmental exposures, daily life-style habits, such as food storage in a rural area. These open interprofessional discussions exchanges knowledge between professions, while improving healthcare of the community as a whole.

Both teams participate, each giving their own perspectives of the topic, as well as clinical applications, when it applies. This open forum provides a training ground for health students and professionals to broaden their knowledge and skill development as doctors and veterinarians, while benefiting health at a community level. 

The Knights Landing One Health Clinic project won a poster award at the annual conference of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in March, 2014. 


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Nicaragua Travel Journal: The Dogs of Bosawas

Amanda Campbell traveled to Nicaragua in the Summer of 2014 with a veterinarian, anthropologist and a small team of students to evaluate hunting dogs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Under the guidance of Dr. Christine Fiorello of the UC Davis One Health Institute, the goal was to better understand the health status and zoonotic diseases risk in the area. Dogs catch the bushmeat that is consumed in Bosawas, so the health of dogs directly affects the livelihood of humans in the region. 

Throughout her travels, Amanda maintained a journal, exploring everything from veterinary technique and cultural awareness to challenging work conditions and the value of a tight-knit team. Follow her journey below, which features photos by fellow student, James Liu. 

From left to right: PI Jeremy "Gaston" Koster of University of Cincinnati; Laura Schwartz, 3rd year vet at UC Davis; Dr. Christine Fiorello (“Fio”) veterinary mentor from UC Davis; Kenya, leader of women’s group in Wina and the team’s liaison in the area; Orlando, former president of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve who lives in Amak. Served as guide during the trip; Amanda Campbell, 2nd year vet student at UC Davis (and narrator of the story below); James Liu, 4th year veterinary student at UC Davis (and photographer); Devin Von Stade, 2nd year veterinary student at UC Davis. 


6/29/14

13 hours of travel from Sacramento to Houston to Managua.

Our flights, characterized by spontaneous napping and subsequent neck cramps, were mostly smooth; it wasn’t until we landed in Nicaragua that we encountered turbulence. Dr. Fiorello predicted that our empty liquid nitrogen tank would encourage questioning from the customs officers but no one predicted that it would instigate a full investigation and seizure of our luggage.  Despite our insistence that our supplies were not for sale (no para vende! No para vende!), all of our medical supplies were detained. We reluctantly left the airport, and all of our bags, and headed to our hostel where we hoped to reunite with the second half of our research team.

Even after dark the bright blue and green walls of “the Nicaragua Guesthouse” were visible.  The playful colors of our home and the sight of James and Laura leaning over the balcony to greet us immediately reignited my excitement toward the trip. It was strangely comforting to hear that their baggage had also been withheld because it meant that the team’s activities for the following day were unified.

With our team united, we strategized inventory recovery. Reclaiming 3 bags felt much easier with 4 minds working together and the discussion quickly shifted toward the upcoming weeks and the dawning adventure.


Fieldwork isn’t easy. Just like any other vet team, it’s ok to lean on each other occasionally. A team isn’t composed of individual pillars but a series of support beams.  We are more capable of dealing with the weight of the situation when it’s distributed.

6/30/14

Thankfully, the departmente de reposicion released our veterinary supplies without much convincing, just a quick fine. We spent the remainder of the morning collecting extra supplies (nitrogena liquido, manzanas, and hilo) then had lunch near our hostel. James, Laura and I ventured into a local bar to watch the Algeria vs. Germany World Cup game while Dr. Fiorello spent the afternoon fighting off jetlag. Carrying the spirit of the game onward, we inflated one of the soccer balls that we planned to donate to kids within the reserve and started a friendly street soccer game.

It turns out soccer is not like riding a bike and practice is required for maintaining any form of skill. I was quickly sidelined.

While sitting on the bench I attempted to engage some of my peers, the 3-and-under crowd. Similar to my soccer experience, I realized that my Spanish was not anywhere near as sharp as when I last practiced...in 2007.  Even writing this 4 hours after the event, I am still embarrassed at my inability to understand anything that was said to me and frustrated that I couldn’t explain my confusion. To complicate the situation more, when I asked for clarification the speed of each response increased. My only salvation was that the hoard of 3-year-old Managuans seemed to enjoy my confusion and giggled profusely.

I really wish I used the beginning of my summer to brush up on the language more. America is often critiqued for its United States-centric education, language included. Compared to other countries, the U.S. doesn’t push bilingual development. Until now I believed that I wasn’t one of those Americans… that I appreciated the dialect variety that exists within the world and that I made a solid attempt at learning Spanish. I am disappointed that I have gotten lazy and reliant on my primary language for communication. I’ve focused my last few years on really learning the science that would guarantee exam success in vet school and demoted the skills that are necessary for being a well-rounded member of my community. In order to be the kind of vet that can practice effectively in my local community and abroad I need both. Veterinary work is not just medicine. Communication is basic and key. I will make a point to practice my Spanish more often this coming year and next year, if I am lucky enough to return, I will not only play for the entire game but also be able to talk about it after.


7/1/14

Today I navigated Indy’s path for 8 straight hours on the way to the port of Ayapal. Disneyland’s Indiana Jones ride is a surprisingly accurate simulation of a truck traversing dirt roads in a forest, whiplash and all.


7/2/14

For the last six months I have heard stories about the boat ride from Ayapal into the reserve. Based on James’ footage of the river from last year, I prepped for a monsoon.

“My rain jacket said it was water proof but it definitely was not. The water soaked right through. I was not prepared.” –Laura

“Oh just wait until you have sat in the boat for 5 hours then decide if you still like the rain...” –Fio

“Make sure you have that Disneyland poncho accessible.”-James

“I remember pouring out my boot at one point.” –Fio

Two hours down the Rio Boci we were all dripping… with sweat. Not a single cloud graced us with rain or shade as we leisurely floated along. Two hours from our end point, I could barely keep my seat on my boat bench because my sweaty trunk and limbs were slip-n-sliding inside my black rain-resistant suit. Throwing decency to the wind I stripped off boots, pants and jacket and continued the rest of the way in running shorts and a quick-dry shirt.

As luck would have it, the rain finally did arrive but not until we were docked in Amak and attempting to unload our boat up a muddy cliff.

The weather in Amak, and Bosawas in general, is characteristically unpredictable. As I would find out later, the rain never comes when you want it and is always there when you’re lugging equipment around or drying clothing on some barbed wire. However, this regular spontaneity of shower and sun play sustains the lush environment.

Salty and sunburned, we tossed our bags onto the dusty floor of “la policia” (where we would all be staying) and attempted to catch the end of the downpour for a shower.


7/3/14

Our previous day of travel along the Amak river knocked us unconscious by 9pm. Based on Laura and James' experience last year, I expected our river ride to be river-rapid and downpour filled. This year, I managed to get rapidly burnt but the rain never came.

Just a long boat ride in scorching heat.

Our preparation the night before gave us a general sense of how the day would play out; the structure of each physical, the processing of the samples, the group dynamic and personal responsibilities. However, nothing prepares you like first hand experience.

We woke at 5am and saw our first set of dogs at 6am. This may seem insanely early, especially compared to the average American starting hours, but the entire village wakes with the dawn and is up tending to their livestock or household chores moments later. Plus, it's pretty difficult to sleep past six when there is a cow mooing through the bars on your window and 360 degrees of roosters informing each other that the sun is up.

Our entire group analyzed the first dog, patient 4001, to reinforce the progression of events during the exam. After, we split down the middle; James and I in one group while Laura and Devin comprised the other. Devin and I were warned ahead of time that the dogs would be fractious and that our presence in town would be received as a source of entertainment for the town citizens. Even with the forewarning I was shocked at the number of people lined up cheek-to-cheek in every windowsill, with the beams of the frame like book ends enclosing a collection of encyclopedias. Some adults seemed interested while others stoically watched but all stayed in their respective windowsills/doorways for hours. The commotion caused by the children (yelling, asking for bon bons, continually walking inside and lining the walls) heightened my already elevated nerves.

Practicing my currently poor physical exams and sample collection techniques is hard enough but I now had highly distracting audience. In addition, the dogs were agitated by the populations and chattering. The combination of these factors and the dogs' lack of familiarity with being handled led to a rough first few physicals. Two of the first 3 dogs thrashed around for the entire duration of the exam. I missed three vacutainer attempts, hit a valve while drawing from the cephalic, and scraped the knuckles of my entire right hand while attempting to restrain. By the time our midday break rolled around I questioned my ability and gladly shifted to processing lab work.

As if Bosawas could tell we needed a fresh start, the clouds darkened and poured rain, which encouraged the hoards of children to return home. When we started back up again, the rambunctious crowd was missing and the dogs were less fractious. With these conditions and the assistance of James and Dr. Fiorello, I succeed in taking blood from the jugular using a vacutainer, hitting the jugular and cephalic using a needle twice and collecting urine from both a male and female dog. The second half of the day took on a completely different mood -- quieter, more efficient, and more confident. I was so proud of my successful blood draws that I lost my annoyance with the onlookers and instead viewed them as valued witnesses to the progress of my competence.

Our day ended with two hours of sample processing and dinner. 12 hours of work with a total of 18 dogs processed and an awesome start to my skill building. Nothing like a little sweat on your brow to give you a feeling of accomplishment. (And some mud, feces, dog hair, deet, a few fleas and a fat mosquito bite).


7/5/14

Today we were kicked out of our homestead and workplace, la policia. The only police officer in town (Don Mario) informed us that a multiday police conference was about to begin and we could no longer occupy the police station. The community coordinator ensured us that he knew of no conference but after being directly confronted by Don Mario, we decided to find a back up location. By the end of the day we eliminated 3 options and accepted a transfer into "la casa materna", the maternity wing of the local health establishment, which was an unused empty building built by an NGO that left long ago. To make matters more complicated, Laura, James and I were all hit with the same spontaneous fever/chills/exhaustion… and just in case that wasn’t enough, the toilet was clogged and the town doesn't own a plunger.

So what was our first step?

An hour nap on the concrete floor of la policia. Duh.

Our new location, la casa materna, consists of two concrete rooms free of hammock hangs like those present on the wooden walls of la policia. The name of the neighborhood translates to "the butchered spider monkey" in Mayangna. The building is a decent walk from the old location through countryside and over a suspension bridge. It feels calmer than la policia and I hope that doesn't hinder our access to dogs. Either way, I feel massive relief that we can continue to process dogs and avoid back-loading our schedule.

Our new sleeping location is in the side house of a local women's family home across town, in the city center. The structure is actually pretty neat and staying here feels far more culturally authentic than the police office we were in the first few nights. The house sits on tall stilts and is composed of a central hall area with open front and rear walls and two sets of small bedrooms on either side. We have access to two of the bedrooms, each with two cot beds. Unfortunately, we have five people so someone has to sleep on the floor or in a hammock. I ended up volunteering as that person because I have spent the least overall time in a hammock.

Our last adjustment was the bathroom. The showering room/buckets we had been using were in la policia. The community coordinator gave us permission to continue using the shower in la policia but Don Mario locked all the doors and shut all the windows the second we evacuated. As a result, accessing that bathroom has been partially based on the luck of entering the building while the door is open and Don Mario absent and partially on knocking continuously until he answers.

So, as of 7pm on July 5 we are working out of the city of Amak, living in the city and bathing in la policia/the rio Amak/ or la bomba (the local water spout). Thankfully, because tomorrow is Sunday, we can sleep and start work at 11. Hopefully everyone will be over his or her bug and things will play out smoothly.


7/6/14

Today was pretty slow. It could be because it is Sunday (everyone is at church) but I don't think many people know that we are located past the bridge and we have exhausted the houses in our immediate location. Super Don Wario really screwed us by kicking us out of la policia. I'm worried that our slow pace will prevent us from accomplishing our goal of seeing every dog.

It's my first night in the hammock in the new living location. I think I set it up too steeply because it's pretty uncomfortable. I'll have to adjust it to make it more horizontal. Oddly, after we said good night and turned off the lights a strange man investigated my hammock while I was in it. When I protested he proceeded to walk into the boy’s then the girl’s room to look for his friend. Apparently church involves drinking.


7/7/14

We have been in the reserve for almost a week now and I think I am finally getting used to being blatantly stared at everywhere we go. For the past five days, children and adults have peered through windows or stood purposelessly staring in the doorway, for hours, while we exist on the other side of their field of view. Before we start working the town accumulates in our building’s orifices, and they stay there through clean up at the end of the day. They don't leave when you make eye contact and only step aside when you walk through the doorway that they occupy.
When we walk through town, little girls and boys giggle, stare and occasionally walk into a cow patty because they aren't focused on the road. When we visit la pulperia (a tiny store) where we have been plugging in the centrifuge and spinning down blood samples, adults and kids leave their porches and stand, hovering, to see everything we do. If we bathe in the river (still wearing sports bras and covered underwear) people stand at the cliff edge and peer down at us, watching.

It made me uncomfortable at first. I couldn't understand why we were so interesting and why they never left or got bored. But, Amak is tiny. The entire town is 240 houses. Just based on the size of the town (like one high school) everyone knows everyone's business. People frequently float between each other’s homes and everyone's kids are spread together over the entirety of Amak. So, not only are we a novelty in terms of the unavailability of basic veterinary care but we are in a small community that is used to a very open, very intertwined lifestyle. Since realizing this, the town has seemed friendlier and I have an easier time exploring and speaking a little more than I had before.

And you know what? When you address your audience (be it 1 person or 20) they will usually try to respond and then the environment is instantly less uncomfortable.


7/7/14

We started referring to Jeremy by the name Gaston... because he looks remarkably like the Disney character. Sing the following to the tune of the Beauty and the Beast song,  “Gaston”:

No one sits like Gaston
Purse his lips like Gaston
Wears a fanny pack above his hips like Gaston!
It is true he can speak some Mayangna (that's right!)
And because he has two hands to spare
You can see him stomping 'round Amak
Or sitting comfortably in his plastic red chair!

That Night

I'm in my hammock right now, which hangs between the boy and girl rooms of our host house, and I realized that I'm not sleeping alone. Beside me are four large pink sacs containing either beans or rice. A few of these sacks rest diagonally against the sidewall creating a tiny triangular space large enough to squeeze a regulation soccer ball. One of the family's chickens has made this space her nest and laid roughly 10 eggs.

I feel like this is the perfect way to describe how Amak handles their livestock.

The cows, pigs, dogs and chickens run free all day and all night. There are no property fences to segregate yards or maintain isolated herds. The town's animals have free range of every part of the town just like the people. Identification of one's animals is dependent on personal familiarity acquired through daily animal husbandry and is vital because of the far reach of each animal.

As we walk from our homestead to our workplace we travel through the center of town. Our path is partially swampy concrete, partially slick dirt road, and mostly animal feces. The people and animals zigzag over the paths leaving boot prints, or other mud-like identifiers, along the grass. The cows and pigs don't make it up the steps into the house but can mirror that movement by marching beneath the house.

The end result amounts to a semi hectic game of pinball in which the players are flying between seemingly random locations. To the onlooker the progression seems chaotic and loud; but to those more experienced, the moving parts and changes in direction are what make the game interesting and characteristically Amak.

So here I am, in a hammock on a porch, on a house on stilts, above a pig and cow pen, next to a chicken roosting in her nest. I'm sure my hammock isn't as comfortable as her nest so she will probably sleep better than I will tonight. I hope, at least, that she has asked her esposa and his amigos to be quiet. Waking up to roosters at 2 am is making my 5:30 alarm seem really early and I want to be rested for the pinball game I have planned for tomorrow.


7/8/14 and 7/9/14

My physical exam is starting to become natural. I have made a solid effort to evaluate each parameter in the same order so that I don't forget anything and maintain flow between each step. I can definitely see that Laura has the strongest vacutainer blood draw skills out of the 4 of us. James and Dev are definitely good but Laura seems like she has been using a vacutainer for years instead of just on two trips to Nica. I'm trying to pair up with her a little more so I can learn her technique.

We have been muzzling every dog so far, which is nothing like how physicals or blood draws are performed in US clinics. The precaution makes sense because we don't have medical aid available and we don't know what zoonotic disease are present here, but it is creating a paranoia that is probably a little exaggerated. Also, the dogs hate the muzzle more than any part of our sample collection. Today we had a dog wear itself out by thrashing around in an attempt to get its muzzle off. The boys couldn't restrain “doggy tornado” and ended up having to de-muzzle (despite the 10 minutes it took to muzzle initially) in order to let the pup breathe properly. Dev and James wanted to release the dog but Laura and I decided to attempt the entire physical muzzle free in an isolated location first. The dog took to this immediately and we were able to complete the exam without upsetting the dog.

For dogs that aren't accustomed to the muzzle it seems to be less stressful to perform the physical without it. However, when getting bitten is likely, it's better to try to muzzle and just deal with additional squirms and cries of protest. About an hour after our muzzle-free miracle, a pregnant female came in that was incredibly aggressive pre-muzzle and outsmarted any attempt at placing it. In this case, muzzle and non-muzzle were not options and we ended up releasing her without samples.

Veterinary medicine is broad in terms of the role it can play in society, the species that it treats, and the tactics it uses to solve each individual case. This is true for physicals as well; each one is tailored to fit the patient. Whether that means in restraint or sample type, each animal is unique and must be evaluated with techniques that serve that individual best. To quote Fio's mentor from vet school, "it depends."

The number of dogs we see per day is steadily decreasing. I think it has a lot to do with our new location in "the suburbs" of Amak. We have seen fewer dogs over the past two days combined than we saw during our first day. We really need a strategy for overcoming this decline or we won't reach our goal of 240 dogs (the estimated dog population size of Amak). We did the math and with the estimated number we only need to assay 10.5 dogs per day. Our new tactic involves seeking out the dogs with a "mobile vet setup." I actually think this might be our only option. We can't return to la policia because of Don Mario and la casa materna is too secluded to draw a lot of people. Tomorrow we hike along the perimeter of Amak for the dogs that haven't been brought to us.

Side-note: I finally figured out the right way to set up my hammock. I wasn't stretching it out far enough so my back was in a constant “C” configuration. The more stretched, the more it behaves like a bed and not a swing. I actually slept super well last night... With the exception of the fact that my hammock got progressively closer to James' hammock throughout the night.


7/10/14 and 7/11/14

My hammock definitely sits on top of James's hammock now. I don't mind sleeping next to him but the nights are already so hot and the additional body heat ensures that we both stink in the morning. James clearly feels the same because he has been attempting to push me away throughout the night using his snake hook.

The past two days have been less restless because we have implemented a mobile vet strategy that involves hiking around the expanse of Amak.

Hiking in a rainforest is a million times different than hiking in California. For one, we have to wear knee-high rain boots because for a lot of the hike you are trudging through shin-high mud. Laura has an uncanny ability to locate the deepest part of each swamp and submerge her foot up to the knee within it. She definitely takes the card for dirtiest clothes at the end of the day.

Second, the foliage is incredibly lush and dense. Our guide, Orlando, leads us with a machete so that he can hack away the banana trees and bamboo that blocks our path. Even with the trimming, we all have a hard time navigating through the low hanging leaves and vines. It's hard to believe that this terrain is real. It actually seems untouched. Man's presence is only evident directly on our path because of the machete trimming and tree trunk bridges over creeks. The best part is when you step out of the trees into a cliff clearing. The view onto the Amak or Bocay river is gorgeous; I completely understand why these Mayangna households choose to seclude themselves.

Laura may win in terms of mud but I hands down take the cake for mosquito bites. No exaggeration, I have 15 bites on my left leg. That's one appendage... I have 3 more limbs that have been equally savaged. Subsequently, I have developed a strange amount of respect for the Amak piglets that spend their day tenderizing themselves against various staircases and displaced roofing material. Jeff Campbell, you were right... I should have bought the 95% deet.

Our trekking through the rainforest has not successfully increased the number of dogs seen, just guaranteed that we saw the dogs too far to be brought to la casa materna. Based on our walks through town, we have seen the majority of the dogs. Jeremy believes that our census was probably incorrect and the dog number was exaggerated. The stragglers that won't bring their animals appear to want more money than we are offering. We are talking about visiting another village soon.


7/12/14

We left Amak today. I have to admit that I'm really happy to move on to a new town because the lull in physical exams is making the days seem very long. We are all leaving something in Amak, not exactly by choice. My blue shirt was stolen from a clothesline, Fio's leatherman was swiped from a table and James's solar charger was taken from our doorway.

We had a strange interaction with one of the Amak adults two days ago that impacted me more than I expected. A lot of the dogs that we see are super sick; they have BCSs of 1-2 (emaciated), heavy ectoparasite loads, often anemic, and generally look worn-out from their rough lives as hunting dogs. The lifespan of the town dogs is short, averaging 4 years, and occasionally we evaluate a dog that seems like it may be days away from death's doorstep. It’s obvious that some of the dogs brought to us may not make it to the end of our visit (let alone our visit next year).

Loba was presented to us emaciated, anemic, tremoring and trying to raise a fresh litter of puppies. Two days ago, we were told that she died. That actually isn't what disturbed me. What bothered me was that her owner sought us out to inform us that we had killed his dog. Despite our explanation that it was poor nutrition in the face of lactation that killed her (hypocalcemia) he continued to blame us. In his eyes, she was alive before us and dead after. I know that we did nothing harmful to Loba and actually advised her owner regarding a better nutritional plan but I still feel guilty.

In class our professors emphasize focusing on the successes while learning from the mistakes. As for the patients that you can't save despite your effort, you can't dwell. Dwelling on the unsaved can fuel hesitation, lower confidence and generally make the job difficult to endure. I have to make a point of focusing on the successful cases and learning from the mistakes because I will encounter more Lobas.

Our dinner had some much appreciated variety in the form of paca meat and tortillas in addition to the standard red beans and rice. The paca was found by one of the Puluwas hunting dogs earlier this evening. We actually sampled (heart and kidney tissue) the animal directly after it was killed so eating it now was a little strange. Either way it wasn’t that bad, like a mix between pork and chicken. My piece still had hair in it. James, Gaston and I were the only ones that tried it; Devin and Fio are vegetarians. I’ve officially eaten bushmeat!

Note: Gaston learned several days later that rumors of Loba's death may not have been true. 


7/13/14

In Puluwas, the rain that I have been hearing about showed up. It has been raining, hard, since before we woke up and will likely continue well into the night. The cool weather is welcome but it has complicated our laundry plan slightly. We have soaking wet laundry hanging over every part of our house; every crossbeam has shirts, pants and underwear sprawled limp over its extremities. Walking around inside feels like being in a house with a lot of ceiling leaks because fresh laundry/river water drops on your head so often. My clothing has been rank for days so the sight of clean wet clothing is amazing regardless of the clutter.

Our first day in the schoolhouse went decently well. Laura, Devin and I worked as a three-person team while James organized all of our samples and acted as scribe. The dogs here are infinitely more aggressive than the dogs we saw in Amak. They showed up growling and snarling, far before we had a chance to annoy them with any butt probe. The aggressive behavior summed with the intense rain left all of us slimy, muddy, and smelling of wet dog.

The cool weather has kept up which has been nice because I can wear my rain pants instead of crazy amount of deet. The less deet the better. I have the same relationship with deet as I do with sunscreen: I know I really need it but I hate putting it on and the feeling of wearing it. Unlike sunscreen, deet melts plastic. My baby dry bag no longer has its rain proof seal because my deet container melted a portion of it off. I can't get away with eating crema's (a 4 pack of cookies) secretly because the wrapper melts in my hand and literally leaves me red handed. I hope it's not too toxic because I have definitely ingested a good amount of it. Sooo…. super safe. The more I can wear pants the better.

We successfully saw every dog on our side of the river (12) if we can see the other half (19) of the river tomorrow we will be finished with Puluwas and move onto Ahsawas.

I'm feeling better about my technical skills today than the past few days. I like the faster pace because I get into more of a rhythm. My only technical goals for this trip included becoming confident in my physical exam procedure and developing proficient venipuncture. Based on the way things are going, I really feel like I will accomplish both.


7/14/14

I have made a new enemy: culicoides.

In the middle of wrapping up yesterday Laura and I agreed to examine one additional "puppy." Usually puppy exams are quick: nasal/conjunctival swab, jugular stick and fecal sample. In this case, the owners misestimated the age and the dog was actually an adult... And crazy. In the middle of wrangling this crazy, sopping wet dog, a swarm of culicoides filled the schoolhouse and targeted any and all free skin they could find. Unlike Mosquitos, you can feel when these bite you and they leave an itchy bite to remind you that they were there. Laura and I are covered. It literally looks like we have chicken pox. The constant itching is making work really difficult to focus on.  I can't skip deet anymore. It's just not an option.

Note to self: bring more clothing next year, including a few long sleeve over shirts and quick-dry field pants, and treat everything in permethrin.

Today we worked on the opposite side of the river in the kitchen of one of the Puluwas households. The limited space meant that we could only work one team at a time but we still successfully saw the other half of Puluwas's dogs. In total we have examined 159 dogs. The people of Puluwas seem more kind and hospitable than those of Amak. They still crowd around when we are working but they don't shout "chine" at James or throw things through the windows. I've noticed this trend with all of the houses outside of Amak city center.

Completing all the dogs in Puluwas should have inspired celebration but our whole team was pretty spent at the end of the day during sampling. Devin was tired from consistently poor sleep in his hammock, Fio caught some traveler’s bug, and Laura and I were fed up with itching. We were a pretty sad group by the time we arrived in the church to use the only town generator, which turned out to be out of gas.

With the rain came a change in mood. James and Devin picked up the church's guitar and bizarre acoustic bass guitar and started playing Weezer, the Animals, the Beatles and other well known songs from home. Gaston attempted to join in with the accordion but clearly had no idea how to play it. While waiting for the gas to arrive, Devin and I broke into two coconuts that we were given earlier in the day and passed around the milk and meat which we carved out using a pocket knife and spoon. I can't explain how good it tasted to eat something fresh and not cooked in oil. The scene was pretty absurd: 4 muddy/pee covered veterinary students (and Fio) sitting in the town church eating coconuts with a spoon and belting house of the rising sun, with a gas fueled generator powering the sample-filled centrifuge in the center aisle, while a small crowd of indigenous Puluwas (one holding an armadillo) sat in the back of the room laughing and watching.

As much as I would like to attribute the change in mood to the magic of Bosawas rain, I think the turning point really came when we all admitted that we were tired and missed home. The fact that we could complete our vet work and enjoy our environment while at the same time missing some parts of home helped me feel more comfortable with our remaining week in the reserve. My exhaustion doesn't make me weak.  Fieldwork isn't easy. Just like any other vet team, it's ok to lean on each other occasionally. A team isn't composed of individual pillars but a series of support beams.  We are more capable of dealing with the weight of the situation when it's distributed.

Tomorrow we leave for Ahsawas. I hope the next house isn't over a pigpen... I really don't want to spend another night with crazy bugs and squealing.


7/15/14

We left Puluwas at 6:30 this morning after packing up our still wet laundry. The trip was considerably faster because we were traveling with the river and all the rain elevated the river level above the rock obstacles.

My bug bites still itch, but Laura is more miserable today. I keep catching her scratching her bites and have to remind her to stop. We convinced her to take a Benadryl because today is mostly travel and set up... She ended up sleeping for the entire boat trip. Fio's GI bug has gotten worse. She threw up a few times over the side of the boat and spent the afternoon sleeping on her thermarest in our new open roofed home.

The current is too high on the rio Bocay for us to bathe so we sought out the mouth of the creek. This is by far the best bathing experience we have had. The Ahsawas canyon creek opens directly into the rio Bocay.  All the tributaries connect at la boca del canyon between high clay walls and fan out over a mesa of bedrock. The slabs that line the river are carpeted in moss or river grass that vocalize with gurgling and swirling turbulence as if the river is openly bragging about its freshness.

As if our appearance wasn't signal enough of our foreigner status, our unfamiliarity and excessive enthusiasm with the canyon sealed the deal. To avoid slipping and falling we crouch/semi-crawl to the middle of the canyon mouth and then spend the entire bath giggling while fighting the current's attempt to throw us into the river Bocay. Sorry Teva, you just aren't cutting it with the moss.  Like in every other town, the people of Ahsawas stare at us during this activity and the cows wander down the cliff edge and hover over our rapids. I'm pretty used to it now so I don't really notice it. It feels so good to be clean.

Our sleeping situation should be better tonight because we are no longer sleeping over a pigpen and my hammock isn't going to touch anyone else. I feel like I'll actually be rested tomorrow.


7/17/14

We successfully saw all of the dogs in Ahsawas, which means that we are moving communities today. I'm kind of bummed out to leave. The community is newly established so the houses are more spread out and the terrain is cleaner. Our house isn't even finished. The layout is different from the other communities in that it is open field punctuated with houses instead of a dense grouping of houses and surrounding field. The people are nicer than any other community so far. The food is better, it's quiet enough to sleep during the night (we aren't over cows/chickens/pigs) and the little kids seem interested in a bashful way, not a "you're an alien" way. To show our appreciation we gave the community a Frisbee, our last soccer ball and pump and some pencils for the school. It was adorable watching the little boys try to figure out the Frisbee.

I apparently haven't been drinking enough water because I experienced severe dehydration -related GI stasis. I had to bow out for the last 3 dogs because my gut was cramping too much to focus. Thankfully, it was an easy fix... I drank 3 containers of water and then pooped for the first time in 6 days. I have to be more careful about that; this diet has way more rice than I am used to. 

I think it's safe to say that our group has grown closer considering we spent an hour discussing our bowel movements (or lack thereof).

That Night

Currently in my hammock in a dirty schoolhouse in Wina. The church is hosting an evening sing-along that we can hear out of our window. Literally everyone is off key. It's actually hilarious. I might not be able to sleep because it’s so entertaining. Tomorrow we strive to break 200 dogs (current count 191)


7/18/14

This town is simultaneously disgusting and hilarious. Questions we have been asked thus far:

"Are there any blue eyes here?"

"Is James from China?"

"But is his family from China?"

"But he is from America?"

Jeremy can speak some Mayangna, which makes town interaction more stimulating and draws a crowd. We ended last night by singing our broken down version of "Stand By Me". Jeremy and Laura are the only ones with semi-decent voices, although Jeremy loses the beat fairly often. Devin drummed on the taut walls of his hammock while Fio and I snapped. We were terribly off key but they seemed to enjoy it… Either that or they legitimately cannot tell what good singing sounds like. I'm beginning to believe the latter based on the town talent we have been hearing. The best part is that the singing is so bold. Every person we have heard belts out Spanish lyrics at the top of their lungs while they cook or clean. I have a video from this morning that demonstrates pretty well.

It's amazing how one person can change your entire perspective on a culture. Our main liaison in Wina is Kenya, the coordinator of the women's group. We met Kenya while she was hiking down a muddy cliff to help sling our heavy equipment through the rain. This is a far cry from the other women we have communicated with, which are kind but reserved and primarily act as the home keepers to their households.

Beyond physically helping us, she has played a large role in making sure our project goes smoothly while in Wina. She coordinated our work/housing in la escuela, she makes and delivers our breakfast and dinner and she was a key voice during the initial town meeting for permission to work in Wina.

Tonight Kenya surprised us with a visit while we were all sitting in our hammocks playing 20 questions. She sat in the center of our ring of hammock cocoons and attempted to get to know us a little better (and vice versa). She ended up staying an hour and we learned about her life in Wina. She only made it to the 4th grade before transferring to an escuela secondaria about an hour away. She really enjoyed her schooling but returned home to her grandmother after getting pregnant. Wina will always be her home but her ultimate goal is to finish school then move on to a university. She divulged to us that her father had been killed and that her mother abandoned her. Her grandmother is the only family she really has left besides her brother. We attempted to learn some Mayangna, which she found hilarious. Apparently we were emphasizing the wrong part of the word and ended up saying that we were husking people instead of thinking of them.

The way that she described her life and her goals was inspiring. She has grown up with very little support in terms of her family and her education and yet continues to press forward in a way that combines her educational goals and her cultural traditions. We have met plenty of men in pursuit of further education but no women, until Kenya. She, similar to the other women in the community, maintains her household and is raising a child. However, she also works at a preschool and leads the women's group. It's obvious from when you first meet her that she is driven and direct but, after getting to know her more it is clear that she is extremely kind, capable and not afraid to explore the Kenya that exists beyond the cultural norm.

I regret that I can't help her more. It seems selfish that our team should show up with 3 women that are considered peers to their male counterparts, all of which have had the world at our fingertips, and not really help her community. It's true that we are paying to survey the dogs and that our donation to the church will benefit the general population but will it help Kenya go back to school? I feel selfish and dumb for not bringing something to donate to the communities. Something as simple as a stack of books would have made a large difference (especially because the only book anyone seems to know is the Bible).

Based on Kenya's interest in English and school we decided to give her our English-Spanish dictionary. I hope she finds it useful. Or, though this may be a stretch, I hope that watching Laura, Fio and I work helps reinforce her drive to learn and encourages her not to give up on her goals.

Our interactions with her have changed my perspective on the communities within the reserve. I can see now that the individuals are not stagnant but in the midst of modernizing their world while maintaining their culture. The isolation makes it difficult to bridge the gap but also helps preserve cultural practices. There is a tug-of-war between modernization (complicated by isolation) and tradition.


7/22/14

(Ode to Latrine" (Sing to the tune of "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind)

Crazy girl you look like you're in pain
Hopping in boots over muddy terrain
There's kids with flashlights out here

You reach the latrine
The doors starting to close
that vile smell tickles your nose
And bees sting your rear

Everyone in Wina hopes and prays
Someone clean the latrine today!


7/23/14

Our last few days in the reserve were highly productive. James, Dev, Laura and I found a pace that allowed us to complete 25 dogs a day without forgoing our breaks. After 3 weeks sweaty and getting peed on together, we are all comfortable enough to voice when we need rest or some food.

When I first applied for the project I remember watching Laura, James and Fio interact and feeling like I wouldn't be able to treat my mentor/superior like they do, like a peer. I'm happily surprised to say that I do feel like Fio and I have a friend relationship. She is definitely smarter and more skilled than I am, but on a human level there is no ranking or awkwardness associated with social hierarchies.

We successfully completed 250 dogs today. We are STOKED! Our time in Wina may have begun with low spirits but they have steadily climbed. The improvement is obvious to any onlooker that associates a smile, laugh or group song with happiness.

I think it is safe to say that we are a happy group. Our individual personalities play off each other in a way that keeps everyone at least smiling. There is rarely tension between the four vet students, which makes the environment conducive to learning. I can honestly say that I am not tired of anyone in our group. I feel closer to all the vet students and my respect for each has grown in both a professional and personal sense. I feel really lucky to be considered their friend/equal and hope we continue our friendship beyond the isolation of the Bosawas biosphere reserve.

Teamwork is emphasized in every year of schooling and necessary for almost every career I can think of. During the academic year we work in groups to research, to solve problems, to evaluate organ systems or microscopic samples and to study. Despite all of this preparation many individuals resist fully embracing team dynamics. There are many instances I can recall where I have not been the best team member. I can be critical of mistakes and impatient, especially when I feel like an individual should be far above that level of functioning. Like any other skill, working successfully in a group takes practice.

Vet school and my involvement in this group have helped improve my ability to work alongside others. We have not had a break from work or each other during any point over the last three weeks, and yet, we continue to function successfully. Individuals have fluctuated with frustration, exhaustion and disappointment but the team is not penalized. We read each other's needs and accommodate to the best of our ability. Everyone flocks to help if a fractious dog reaches full tornado status and provides guidance when a vein keeps disappearing. Because of this, we function efficiently.

A successful team supports each other, works hard, provides and accepts feedback, is attune to the needs of its individuals, is respectful, willing to compromise when needed and continually strives to improve. This is what we have created, and it is essentially self-sustaining as long as that list remains true.

I am proud to be part of this team. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to participate in a research experience like this one. I leave Nicaragua confident in my physical exam and venipuncture technique, more suited to teamwork than I was prior, more aware of a foreign culture and more capable of handling unexpected problems.  

Through our work, a little part of me will always be in Nicaragua, but the rest is happy to return to the United States.

Vet school year two, I am ready for you.


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Meet Katie Delk, Zoo Medicine Resident

The Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center partners with the Sacramento Zoo to provide veterinary services and training opportunities for Zoological Medicine residents like Katie Delk, featured in the video above. Zoological Medicine residents spend their second and third years of the residency at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park and SeaWorld

The Zoological Medicine Service and Residency Program was developed by Dr. Murray E. Fowler in 1974. It was the first zoological medicine residency in the world. The program is now run by Dr. Ray Wack. 


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Sarad Paudel's One Health Institute Fellowship

Sarad developed a matrix of infectious diseases in sensitive wildlife in Nepal and, in the One Health Institute lab, received training in detection and diagnosis of emerging and re-emerging diseases from humans, non-human primates and rodents around the world.

Sarad Paudel is a PhD student at the the Laboratory of Wildlife Biology and Medicine at the Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine at Hokkaido University in Japan. He was selected by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) under the International Priority Graduate Programs (PGP) to get his PhD at Hokkaido University. He is studying tuberculosis in Nepalese elephants for his thesis research. 

Hokkaido University's Leading Program at the Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine arranged for Sarad to spend one month as a fellow at the UC Davis One Health Institute for his internship training from May 13 to June 12. While at UC Davis, he was under the supervision of Professor Jonna Mazet, Director of One Health Institute. He participated in a wide variety of activities aimed at giving him a multi-faceted experience and fostering his career as a global leader in veterinary science and One Health. 

Sarad (center) and the OHI lab team. 

During his time at the OHI, Sarad came to value the input and needs of stakeholders at UC Davis and abroad. During his brief training, he was actively involved in global wildlife and human health projects and learned the techniques employed at the OHI to manage projects and investigate disease threats. 

During just one month, he developed a matrix of infectious diseases in sensitive wildlife in Nepal and, in the OHI lab, received training in detection and diagnosis of emerging and re-emerging diseases from humans, non-human primates and rodents around the world. His work on the development of the matrix of infectious diseases in endangered species of wildlife in Nepal will be used to help identify and prioritize response and training plans for infectious diseases that may emerge in these species.

Sarad and Dr. Jonna Mazet, Director of the One Health Institute. 

Sarad joined other activities of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at OHI as well. He visited and gained knowledge on the activities at the California Raptor Center, Students for One Health clinic for underserved minorities, and the Sacramento Zoo, which is collaborating with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine on the residency program in zoological medicine. Sarad also joined seminars and presentations at OHI during his training here.

Sarad will have great potential as an academic researcher or scientist in his career, particularly in fields that specialize in infectious diseases transmitted at the interface of humans, domestic animals, wildlife, and environment.


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California Black Bears Head Up the Coast

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California Black Bears Head Up the Coast

Words By Jasjeet Dhanota
Graphics by Chris Ancheta and Justin Cox

The iconic bear on the California state flag is a grizzly – a species that hasn’t been spotted in California since 1924. The grizzly bear's meddlesome nature toward livestock didn't sit well with the settlers who rapidly populated California in the late 1800s. Just 75 years after gold was discovered in California, the grizzly bear population in the state had been decimated

Black bears, on the other hand, remained, and their lone competitor was no longer in the picture. What followed was a steep increase in black bear population and habitat range that continues to this day. It is estimated that there are at least 30,000 black bears in California and, as time passes, they’re being spotted farther and farther up the coastal range, which was once grizzly habitat.

Jamie Sherman, a fourth-year PhD student in the Animal Biology graduate group at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is an up-and-coming black bear expert. She is working with Dr. Holly Ernest and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to research new black bear populations in San Luis Obispo County and Monterey County. By the end of her PhD program, she will develop suggestions to improve the way black bear population size is estimated throughout California.

I sat down with Jamie in early July to talk about the work she is doing with black bears.

“This bear is a cub from Ojai, California who came to us with a severe mange infestation,” said Jamie. “We treated her for the infection and she was released back into the wild. This is during her final examination prior to release.” 

What led you to study black bears?

I’ve loved animals since I was young. I started working with large carnivores when I was in college and I just fell in love with watching how they interact with their environment. When I completed my undergrad degree, I had the option of going to vet school or graduate school. Ultimately, I decided that I love having a question and finding that answer, so I decided to go the research route and get my PhD. When I got to California it seemed that there was a need for people to be researching black bears. They’re incredibly smart animals that seem to be able to survive no matter what comes their way, which I find very fascinating. 

Why is it important to know the population and geographic location of black bears?

Bears are expanding into human habitat and humans are expanding into bear habitat, which creates potential safety problems for both humans and bears. It's important for people to understand how to live with black bears. Human-wildlife conflict will continue to pose challenges as populations grow. A large component of preventing these conflicts is making sure food is not accessible to bears. That's the goal of CDFW's Keep Me Wild campaign

How has the black bear population changed in recent years?

It has tripled in the last 25 years. It's estimated that in the 1980s, there were about 10,000 black bears statewide and now the estimates are over 30,000 black bears. There are a few reasons that could be. One is that grizzly bears are no longer around, so black bears have less competition and are able to expand into habitat range that was historically populated by grizzlies. Another hypothesis is legislation in the past 20 years that has changed hunting practices.  

Can you tell us a bit more about black bear hunting?

Up to 1,700 black bears are hunted in California each year, and it's primarily for meat. Bears eat a variety of things and are very prone to getting different parasites. Some of those diseases can be passed to humans, including one that I focused on for part of my research, which is Trichinella. It can be passed from bears to humans when undercooked black bear meat is consumed. There are other parasites as well, but Trichinella is at the forefront because it has gotten humans sick in California in recent years. 

Why are you working in San Luis Obispo County and Monterey County?

Those areas are really interesting because they're home to a relatively new population of black bears in California. Prior to 1950, there were no reports of black bears occurring in those two counties. It's hypothesized that it's because those two counties were typically inhabited by grizzly bears, which on the food chain are much higher up than black bears. It's likely that grizzly bears excluded black bears from that area before they were extirpated from California in the 1920s.

Some studies have shown that the black bears in the Central Coast region are most closely related to the southern Sierra Nevada black bears. We hypothesize that those bears have traveled up and over the transverse ranges and are moving their way up along the coast now. Through our work, we hope to get a better understanding of how black bears are inhabiting the two counties. 

How is the black bear population estimated currently?

They are estimated based on hunter-harvest, which means that every time a bear is hunted, the hunter has to report to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The information feeds into models to estimate population based on projected habitat throughout California.

This method has some limitations. One is that there are some counties where hunting does not occur and some counties where very little hunting occurs. So, you're estimating a total population based on data from very specific areas and then extrapolating to a much larger area. Another limitation is that hunters will preferentially go for larger bears, which are typically male. That can affect the models. But the real limitation and why we are interested in exploring other options for population estimation is that there are many areas where very little hunting occurs or hunting is illegal. We really want to get a better, more accurate idea of population in those areas. 

image/svg+xml 2012 Number of Bears Harvested By County (Out of 1,962 Bears Total) Unknown 1 - 50 51 - 100 101 - 150 151 - 200 Figures taken from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

What would be a better way to measure the population?

In my opinion, it would be to use a series of different methods that can adapt to California’s unique geographic areas and unique population. California is really interesting because we have such a diverse amount of habitat for black bears. You have bears that live in climates up north —a very seasonal lifestyle where they hibernate and it’s cold in the winter. And then you have bears in Santa Barbara who are not going to come across snow ever in their lives. It would be ideal to incorporate those differences through various methods. Hunter-harvest may be really great in areas where there is a high density of hunting, but then we have to explore other options where that’s not the case.

How are you collecting samples in Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties?

Non-invasive methods are preferred because they don’t negatively affect the animals. One of the ways we do that is by using barbed wire hair snags. They are barbed wire corrals that have non-consumable bait in the middle. The bears are attracted to the scent of the bait and they’ll walk through the wire. It will snag some hair without them ever knowing. The field crew goes out once a week to inspect the barbed wire and collect the clumps of hair. Once we have the sample, we get it to the lab to get the DNA from the hair to identify if it’s a unique individual or a bear we have already tracked.

This method is called capture-mark-recapture. The basic idea is that if there’s a very large population, you should be catching new individuals regularly. However, if there’s a smaller population, you’re more likely to be catching the same individual.

Click the red dots below

What do you use to draw the bears to the corrals?

We use two kinds of baits. One is very disgusting, but smells fantastic to the bear. It’s a mixture of cow blood that we get from butchers, and fish meal that ferments in a large bucket. It’s a very potent and disgusting smell. We pour that onto a pile of sticks, which creates a bait that can’t actually be consumed. We want the bears to be curious, but we don’t want them to come back constantly because it can skew our results. It’s called being “trap happy.” Our bait smells interesting, but the bears don’t get a reward for checking it out.

The other scent is sweet, either a honey or raspberry or anise oil. We use both because individual bears have their own likes and dislikes. We want to cater to all of the possible bears in that area.

What is your end goal for this project?

My goal is to inform both Fish and Wildlife and the public on the status of black bears in California and how we can manage them into the future. We’ll develop a report that we share with Fish and Wildlife, who are the main funders, and they'll disseminate that information to their employees and to the public. They’ll decide how they want to go further with this information.

I've gained a great set of mentors at UC Davis and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. At the department, I’ve had the unique experience of working, both on the research side and as a scientific aide at their Wildlife Investigations Lab. My mentors have helped me hone in on my skills as a scientist and develop new skills that are going to help me be successful in the future. 

Related: The Power of Asking, by Jamie Sherman


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The Power of Asking

By Jamie Sherman

Often times people are afraid to approach superiors and ask to get involved, but in my mind, the worst that can happen is they say no.

I'm currently a 4th year PhD student in the Animal Biology grad group, expecting to graduate in June of 2015. My research focuses on black bear population health in California, with a specific focus on bear population size and the zoonotic parasite, Trichinella. 

I did my undergraduate studies at Syracuse University in New York and fell in love with wildlife research during a study abroad trip in South Africa. While there, I approached some veterinarians at the Kruger National Park and asked if I could come back the following summer to do a research project. They said yes, and from there we designed a project looking at babesia infections in lions in the park. 

As soon as I got back to Syracuse I applied for funding and returned to South Africa a few months later. After a summer of working with the vets in the park and a wide variety of animals, I decided I wanted to make a career out of wildlife research. 

For my graduate degree, I wanted to try something new, so I reached out to Dr. Holly Ernest and asked about joining her lab and working with wildlife in California. Once Holly and I got to know each other, we decided I would be a good fit for the lab, so I moved out to Davis. 

During my first year I considered working with many species - mountain lions, hummingbirds, bighorn sheep, but ultimately decided on bears. California’s black bear population is growing rapidly in size and distribution, and there is a need for research to better understand and plan for future management (and there was funding to back this need). 

I work very closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Two of my projects are funded by them, and I work part time as a scientific aide with the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory. As a sci-aide I primarily work weekends taking care of the orphan animals that come to lab. So far I have worked with about 10 bear cubs, five mountain lion cubs, a bobcat, two deer and two red foxes. 

For three of the mountain lion cubs, I was primary caretaker which involved hand-rearing them for a few weeks. It was awesome! I also help out with some of their big field projects — 3 bighorn sheep captures and one deer capture. 

I got my position at Fish and Wildlife in a way similar to my other experiences: I asked if I could work with them. I started off as a volunteer for six months and then when a position opened up, I was rewarded for my time. 

The main thing I've learned as I continue on my journey through the research world is the power of asking to get involved. I asked the vets to do research in South Africa, I asked Holly about joining her lab, and I asked Fish and Wildlife if I could volunteer.

Often times people are afraid to approach superiors and ask to get involved, but in my mind, the worst that can happen is they say no. I have gained a great set of mentors that I would never have gotten to know if I was afraid to approach them. 

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When They Were Students

The photos below are of One Health Institute faculty members. The photos were taken back when they were students accumulating the knowledge and skills that prepared them for the important work they do today. 

Woutrina Smith

“They had said it was too hard to build a career in wildlife so I trained up in small animal and exotics in vet school. Then I realized people had also told me it was too hard to go to vet school so I should just go to med school. Well, someone’s got to do all these things… why not us?”

Woutrina, Associate Professor of Epidemiology


Kirsten Gilardi

"The summer right after graduation from veterinary school (more than 20 years ago - yikes!), I spent 6 weeks in the Peruvian Amazon with my husband Jamie, surveying wild parrot species for viruses known to infect captive birds. The project was the culmination of a lot of mentoring and support I received while I was a veterinary student, especially from Walter Boyce, Linda Lowenstine, and Murray Fowler.

In this sunrise photo, it's the end of the season and we're starting our boat trip back down the Manu River from our field camp, heading home to Davis to start a residency in Primate Medicine. So the smile is for a lot of things: excitement about embarking on next steps as a brand-new (wildlife!) veterinarian, but mostly about the prospect of a hot shower and a cold beer."

— Kirsten, Co-Director of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center


Jonna Mazet

"After working in a small animal clinic throughout high school, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I also wanted to apply what I was learning in a broader way. Luckily, I was able to get involved in research in my early years of veterinary school, which exposed me to what our profession could contribute to wildlife and the world. Little did I know that I was working with and meeting people with whom I would continue to partner throughout my career. Check out Walter Boyce (on the right) in his first faculty lab; he and I would later become Co-Directors of the Wildlife Health Center for 15 years!"

Jonna, Director of the UC Davis One Health Institute


Mike Ziccardi

"While at UCD for vet school, I was fortunate enough to have some exceptional mentors to help me pursue my career path in free-ranging wildlife medicine. Dave Jessup at that time was with the Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Investigations Lab, and helped foster my interests by allowing me to tag along during some of their many different activities, including net-gun captures of bighorn sheep out of helicopters in Southern California. These experiences not only helped me to (eventually) become a wildlife veterinarian, but they showed me the power of taking the time and energy to foster and encourage interested and energetic students with a passion for wildlife; efforts we continue to promote here at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center!"

Mike, Co-Director of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center


Tracey Goldstein

“Just another day in the office... Working with wildlife and studying their diseases can bring us to many diverse locales. How lucky are we? But don't underestimate that discipline, long days and rigor are needed to do this kind of work.”

Tracey, Lab Director, Associate Director of the UC Davis One Health Institute


Christine Johnson

"Veterinary school was a last minute career decision for me, as I was headed to medical school like all of the other students interested in science at my undergraduate school. In fact pre-vet career counseling was not even an option at my school, only pre-med. I can honestly say that since that decision, there’s never been a dull moment, which has made this an absolutely perfect career." 

Christine, Associate Director of the UC Davis One Health Institute

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6 Pieces of Advice For Your Career in One Health (VIDEOS)

Navigating your education can be daunting and overwhelming. One way to add clarity to the process is to gather information from those who have already traveled their paths and familiarized themselves with the terrain. 

That's why the Students for One Health hosted a panel at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in early 2014. The goal was to give current veterinary students a chance to pick the brains of three faculty members and two PhD students, all of whom are working in the fields of One Health and wildlife. Their advice can be found in the videos below. 

1. One Health for wildlife vets 

2. Choosing the right path

3. MPVM vs. PhD

4. Effective emails & resumes

5. The political realm

6. Marketing yourself

The panel included, left to right: Tristan Burgess, DVM, PhD Candidate, Deana Clifford, DVM, MPVM, PhD, Kirsten Gilardi, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, Christine Johnson, DVM, MPVM, PhD, and Lisa Shender, MS, DVM, PhD Candidate. 

Related: The Power of Asking


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The Growing Impact of Student-Run Projects

When we decided to devote a volume of Evotis entirely to the work of future leaders in One Health and wildlife, the Students for One Health (SOH) immediately sprang to mind.

We included stories about student work being done in Knights Landing, California and Nicaragua to give an up-close glimpse into how these projects function on the ground-level, but we also wanted to zoom out and think about how these clubs fit into the larger educational experience at UC Davis and at universities around the world. As you’ll read below, the student-driven structure offers an abundance of opportunities and can be of great value to the school. 

To explore those opportunities, we tapped Paulina Zielinska, DVM, MPVM, MPH and Haley McDermott, MPH, both of whom are One Health enthusiasts who have worked closely with student-run projects at UC Davis for the past several years. 


By Paulina Zielinska & Haley McDermott


Within the last three years, the Students for One Health club, housed within the UC Davis One Health Institute, has established two successful student-run projects.  Focused on important international and domestic issues, “The Knights Landing One Health Clinic” in California and “One Health, Nicaragua” are quickly gaining recognition for their achievements.

Last March, club members won three out of four poster awards for their work at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Conference, and SOH projects are continuing to push forward with accelerating momentum.  You can see their posters and hear from students here.

As word spreads about these recent successes, many faculty and UC Davis affiliates have become curious about the quality, rationale and sustainability of the student-run projects model. This discussion is more important now than ever, as similarly structured student-run projects have begun taking shape at schools around the globe.

UCD veterinary students at the One Health Fair in Knights Landing, CA | Photo by Paulina Zielinska

Student-run vs. traditional projects

The traditional, faculty-driven project is the model we are all most familiar with: A faculty member with vast knowledge and expertise in one or more areas selects or is funded to study a particular topic. The faculty member then forms a study design, develops hypotheses, and recruits staff and students who may perform data collection, assist with analyses and write-ups, deliver poster presentations, etc. In this model, students gain an incredible research skill-set, have the opportunity to develop a very meaningful mentor relationship and may even find a passion or interest in the area they are studying — sometimes launching into an alternate career trajectory that may not have been considered otherwise. Finally, faculty-driven projects are funded which is a great benefit for students, and faculty are able to support them more fully.

Conversely, student-run projects start with passionate students who have a deep interest in topics or areas for which there is no obvious opportunity to become involved. These projects are led by students who seek hands-on experience and the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a setting beyond those experiences readily available and outside of the traditional academic model. The disadvantage of this model is that these projects are hard to fund, and private support is critical to sustain them. However, because these projects are not constrained by the bounds of University-driven or externally funded research, they may promote innovation and creativity beyond what might be expected in pre-planned projects. The students, through trial and error and intrinsic motivation, gain skills in project development, leadership, communication, collaboration, interdisciplinary teamwork, project evaluation and sustainability that may otherwise be hard to come by.

The varied type of work inherent in these projects prepares students for future professions by providing an introduction and exposure to a variety of careers. Students find out what they enjoy and discover where their natural skills are at their sharpest. This valuable insight is not only gained through real-world experience, it is practiced in an incredibly rewarding and therefore effective setting. Many students we have worked with continue to cite working on these projects as one of their best experiences in school.

The collaborative approach of student-led projects also has networking value. Exposure to a variety of organizations along the way helps students connect with one another, as well as with faculty. In this model, the students are turning problem-focused ideas into action-oriented solutions, and they are doing it together. 

Value to the school

The student-run model is not just beneficial for students; it can be great for the University that houses them. Student-run projects provide an attractant for recruiting entrepreneurially-minded graduate students. These projects also expand and strengthen connections with other Universities and organizations through faculty, staff, organization, and community participation. They increase the potential for University research findings and publications, development and piloting of novel programs, and initiatives for training and education, all while providing an alternative student experience without increasing the daily work burden on faculty who do not have the capacity to mentor additional students.

Finally, they provide students with more opportunities and choices to complement their learning experience, enhancing their overall satisfaction with their education. 

UC Davis veterinary students introduce medical students to the various groups they have been partnering with in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua | Photo by Laura Budd

Finding a balance 

To those who have been closely involved with student-run projects here at UC Davis, it is clear that they are invaluable for faculty, students, and the University as a whole. But it’s also clear that these benefits will only reach their potential if the student-run projects are provided with a mechanism for support and guidance.

Students are demonstrably willing and able to carry out successful, innovative projects, but some level of active faculty support and mentorship is also required for sustainability. Student-run projects can easily become derailed or even overwhelmed and overburdened as students seek answers to questions along the way – and many questions could be answered by faculty who have vast experience with such issues.

At the same time, if you tilt too far in the direction of the faculty-driven projects, you end up with a top-down approach that adds to the faculty’s workload and stifles the innovation, creativity, and learning-by-doing approach that is so crucial to the student-run model.

The success of the model, therefore, depends on the ability to balance priorities between student and faculty needs.  This is not a new concept. Public Health, business, and development fields alike have long debated balancing top-down vs bottom-up priorities. What may be needed is a focus on the “middle-out” approach; meaning innovation should originate from the students, but guidance should still be provided from the top. A middle out approach further fosters student’s professional growth and networking skills, allowing for more collegial ties between faculty and students as information is exchanged to enhance project success. UC Davis faculty have already begun to facilitate this type of exchange by providing support and guidance on the One Health Advisory and One Health Student Project Advisory Boards.

Moving forward (at UC Davis and elsewhere) it is important that this balance remains at the forefront of the discussion. Student-led projects will only continue to prosper if faculty, staff, and the students continue to work together as one team.  


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More From the One Health Institute

The Knights Landing One Health Clinic

Students of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine joined the School of Medicine students to offer free healthcare services to an underserved community in rural California. They have established a monthly One Health Clinic that integrates animal health with human health, while considering environment and life-style of the "family unit."


7 Questions With Miles Daniels

"It’s the aspect of working on projects that have the potential to generate lasting improvements in the way we interact with our environment that makes my work enjoyable." 


Students Win 1st & 2nd Prize at Wildlife Disease Association Conference

1st Place

Physical Effects of Chemically Dispersed Oil on Common Murres, by Emily Whitmer

This project is an investigation into the effects of exposure to chemical dispersant and dispersed oil on seabirds.  Seabirds are vulnerable to marine oil spills because they rely on their plumage to form waterproof barrier between the cold ocean water and their skin.  When exposed to oil, the waterproof barrier is disrupted and the bird rapidly loses body heat and buoyancy.   Dispersants emulsify oil into small droplets and can break up oil slicks on the sea surface, so they have the potential to reduce the risk of seabird exposure to oil on the sea surface.  However, we know very little about the effects of exposure to dispersants and dispersed oil on seabirds.  

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network team undertook this project to investigate the impact of exposure to dispersant and dispersed oil on the feather structure, waterproofing, thermoregulation, and behavior of seabirds.  Our aim is to provide data to inform decision-making and net environmental benefit analysis for chemical dispersant use during marine oil spill response.  

We were fortunate to collaborate with and draw on the expertise of veterinarians, biologists, and other scientists from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the One Health Institute, the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

2nd Place

Organochlorines in California sea lions - Temporal trends and association with cancer and infectious disease,  by Nistara Randhawa

The study was on PCBs and DDTs (organochlorine contaminants) in the blubber of California sea lions: their association with biological factors like age and sex; trend over time; and association with health. These pollutants were found to be significantly associated with adverse health, increasing the risk of cancer and infectious diseases. Additionally, their levels were found to decline over time. On the basis of this study, California sea lions could be considered useful sentinels for monitoring marine environment health. 


Students Win Big at AAVMA Conference

Four poster awards were given by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges at their annual Conference on One Health this March. Of those four total awards, three went to students from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.


Meet Dr. Sarad Paudel, The OHI's Summer Fellow

During his brief training, he was actively involved in global wildlife and human health projects and learned the techniques employed at the One Health Institute to manage projects and investigate disease threats. 


This Year's Students for One Health Officers

The officers for the Students for One Health change annually. Here are the students currently at the helm. 


Meet The Student Interns of Evotis

This publication is put together with help from three very talented student interns: Jasjeet Dhanota, Matt Richards and Chris Ancheta. 


Remembering Dr. Murray Fowler

"Dr. Fowler’s influence on the discipline of zoological medicine defies adequate words because it has been so incredibly illustrious and far-reaching."

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7 Questions With Miles Daniels

By Jasjeet Dhanota

Before beginning his work at UC Davis, Miles Daniels completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at California State University Monterey Bay, where he researched fecal pathogens in coastal wetlands and the ways in which wetlands could improve water quality for humans and wildlife. For his PhD work at UC Davis, he has studied fecal pathogens from water sources in eastern India and the ways in which improved sanitation could reduce exposure to these disease-causing organisms. 

In the questions below, Daniels discusses his passion for the environment and shares some other fun facts about himself. 

1. How did you decide to work with wildlife?

Since growing up along the Ventura River in Ojai, California and exploring its many playgrounds as a kid, I have felt a strong connection to my environment, including the many wildlife species that I loved to watch. It is from this strong connection and the understanding that our health is tied to the health of the environment, that I developed an interest and passion for working to protect environmental resources and wildlife for today’s and future generations.

2. What do you like most about working at the One Health Institute?

I enjoy working in the One Health Institute because of the shared goals of the staff to conduct research to improve ways we interact with our environment for the betterment of ourselves as well as the protection of wildlife. Plus, all the people are very friendly!

3. What is the most rewarding part of the work you do?

Since I began working on research projects in California with an emphasis on reducing water quality impacts to human and animal health, I have been fortunate enough to work at beautiful field sites along the coast of California while conducting applied research. It’s this aspect of working on projects that have the potential to generate lasting improvements in the way we interact with our environment that makes my work enjoyable.

4. If you had the time to learn anything, what would it be?

I have always wanted to learn how to fly a plane. With a background in earth sciences, I always enjoy having a window seat when on commercial flights and looking at geological formations from a different perspective, and I would like to be able to turn the plane whenever I would like!

5. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I would enjoy meeting Aldo Leopold, a leader in developing ideas about environmental stewardship. After reading his books and learning about his life and perspectives on environmental ethics, I would like to hear his viewpoints on how we manage and coexist with our environment today and how situations today can compare to when he was working to protect wilderness regions of the northwest.

6. What is the #1 most played song on your iPod?

One of my favorite artists is Bob Dylan. I enjoy his unique voice and some of my favorite songs of his, such as “Seven Curses”, are also great stories.

7. What goals do you have for the future?

After completing my degree I hope to find a job where I can continue applied research into management practices that will improve human, animal, and environmental health with an ultimate goal of working with policy makers to implement proven management practices. I will be happy as long as my passion for protecting the environment can be met and I get to continue exploring outdoors!

If you would like to learn more about Miles Daniels’ work in the Monterey Bay wetlands, follow this link.  

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