Dromedary camel health care practices reported by caretakers working at a permanent market
Traditional health care practices and ethnoveterinary medicine are still common in camels. This study aimed at describing camel health issues reported by caretakers including their management and treatment practices. Associations between the health issues and caretakers’ background, management practices, and facilities were also investigated. Camel caretakers (n=49) at a permanent market in Qatar were interviewed and data related to the camel pens (e.g. presence of shelters, water, and feeding points) collected. During the interview, questions sought to elicit the following information; i) caretaker’s background (age, level of education, experience, and how they identify when a camel is sick), ii) caretaker’s management practices (feeding, watering, and health care practices), iii) caretaker’s description of the last health problem (camel details, recalled diagnosis/clinical signs, possible cause, treatment, and outcome). The majority of the caretakers were middle-aged (31-50 years old) and they used to identify a sick camel mainly observing its behavioural modifications (p < 0.001). Treatment for endo- and ectoparasites were usually administered by caretakers, health checks routinely performed by veterinarians, while vaccinations were not conducted in most of the pens (p < 0.001). A total of 38 health problems were described and the high environmental temperature was the most reported possible cause (43.2%; p < 0.001). Among the recalled health problems, sunstrokes were the most common (11/38; p = 0.046), followed by fever (9/38). Sunstroke was more likely to affect males (OR: 5.04; CI95%: 1.87-23.38; p = 0.039), while fever younger animals (OR: 0.68, CI95%: 0.47-1.00; p = 0.050). Sunstrokes were more likely managed by non-veterinarians (OR: 4.75; CI95%: 1.05-21.34; p = 0.042). The majority of the cases were early identified and had a full recovery, but 11/38 camels died. Interestingly, drugs were the most common treatment (73.7%, p < 0.001), but often bought and administered directly by caretakers. Duty of care, infectious disease prevention, early and appropriate treatments could be recommended to guarantee the principle of good health and consequently animal welfare. Education on how to identify a sick camel and how to manage it should be also promoted.
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