Veterinarians lead military medical team to West Africa

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Dr. Greg Saturday treating an abscess on a camel calf.
Dr. Greg Saturday treating an abscess on a camel calf.

In September, the United States Army Veterinary Service, 100th Medical Detachment, Heidelberg, Germany led a Combined and Joint Medical Task Force to Mauritania, West Africa, to conduct a MEDFLAG exercise. Colonel (Dr.) Charles Kelsey Jr commanded the task force.

The MEDFLAG exercise allows the US military an excellent opportunity to train and execute military veterinary skills in an austere environment. The exercise is a Joint Chiefs of Staff-funded military exercise. Participation by all US Services provided medical training and cooperative medical care to the West African nation, the second time since 1990.

The MEDFLAG group established base camp at Aleg, located 300 km west of the capital. Four medical teams provided ophthalmic examinations and cataract surgeries, dental examinations and tooth extractions, and field sanitation training to military medical soldiers.

Captains (Drs.) Shannon M. Wallace and Greg Saturday led the veterinary team in treating more than 200 military camels from the 7th Regional Mauritanian Military Command. The team performed blood tests for trypanosomiasis, which is an economically important disease in camels in Mauritania. Dr. Mamadou Dia, a veterinarian with the Mauritanian government veterinary research center, assisted with the testing. Dr. Dia has been studying trypanosomiasis for several years.

In addition, the camels were dewormed, and several camel calves with abscesses were treated.