Roger Windsor

Adventures in Veterinary Medicine

COVID19 AND VACCINE TESTING

Because  of my age I am very interested in a vaccine against covid19! I was therefore delighted when I heard that the Oxford team had recruited brave volunteers to be vaccinated and then be challenged with the live virus.  This reminded me of the time when I was working at the East African Veterinary Research Organisation in Kenya, where I was part of the ‘Mugug Mafia’ that worked with contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia, a serious respiratory disease of cattle caused by Mycoplasma mycoides, that in additions to lesions in the chest, also, in serious cases, affected similar organs to those affected by covidd19, especially the kidneys but also other abdominal organs. I was responsible for the production of the  T1 broth vaccine that almost eradicated the disease from Africa. We had serious problems testing the vaccine, because if we injected the pathogenic strain into the trachea of cattle they succumbed to the disease whether or not they had been vaccinated. We had to devise a method to test their immunity. There was another similarity with covid19 in that that when vaccinated the animals showed an antibody response within 14 days, but by six weeks post vaccination many animals no longer had demonstrable antibodies in their blood, despite being immune.

To demonstrate their immunity we had to devise an indirect test, which had been worked out  before my arrival on the scene. Our statistician had informed us that there would need to be a minimum of 16 animals in each group and for our indirect test we required a minimum of three groups; a vaccinated, a control and a group to be artificially infected.  We had to purchase mobs of animals of the same age and size, and because during the trial they would be housed together we had to remove the horns. The animals were randomly assigned to a group and those in the groups to be vaccinated received 0.5ml of the T­1 broth vaccine into the tail tip, and the animals were all grazed together until it was time for the trial to begin. The animals that were to be artificially infected were anaesthetized and a plastic tube was inserted into the trachea;  a fine plastic tube was then passed into a bronchus and a culture of the pathogenic challenge organism was injected into the lung tissue.

Once the donor animals had recovered from the anaesthetic all the animal were put together into a covered yard; their temperatures were taken daily and once a week they were bled and the serum was tested for antibody.   Within a few days the donor animals showed elevated temperatures, and signs of respiratory distress developed; after about six weeks the control animals started to show signs of the disease. Six weeks after the first signs were seen the animal was slaughtered, although some died earlier, and some were slaughtered on humane grounds. After a further six weeks all the animal were slaughtered.  Detailed post mortem examinations were carried out and numerous cultures were set up to try an isolate the mycoplasma. We never recovered the organism from any of the vaccinated animals. By this method we were able to show that the vaccine produced a solid immunity for 12 months and even two years after a single vaccination many animals were still protected, and so we were able to recommend that to prevent disease in their herds, African countries should vaccinate their animals on an annual basis.  I sincerely hope that the Oxford team have the same success with their covid19 vaccine.

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY SYMPOSIUM ON AFRICA

On Saturday 15th July I attended this symposium and had a stand to sell my books. The symposium was a disaster! Instead of glorifying the role that Edinburgh graduates – the doctors, vets, teachers, priests, and engineers had had in building ports, roads, railways, schools, churches, hospitals, clinics, and universities; teaching, healing the sick and controlling animal diseases, the social “scientists” went on about the terrible role that the university had played in the slave trade by accepting money from the profits of slavery. They complained that Edinburgh was behind Glasgow University in unravelling the wicked ways our forefathers behaved: and so judging the mores of the past by present day values.

They went so far as to suggest that the David Hume Tower should be renamed because he was a racialist; Hume was a great philosopher and one of the leaders of the Scottish Enlightenment which was responsible for the prosperity the world enjoys today. Almost the only African man who was mentioned was Julius Nyerere, who apart from being the first president of Tanganyika, translated Julius Caesar into Swahili.   They did not mention that the first South African vet qualified from the Dick Vet in the 1880s,  nor that he was a Cape Coloured! Coming up to the present day Sir David Jawarra (as he became), studied for the Diploma in Tropical Veterinary Medicine during my time at the Dick Vet, having obtained his veterinary degree in Glasgow. He became the first President of The Gambia. In my year was Mike Buada, with whom I have  lost touch but when I was in Ghana, I was informed that he was Dean of the Kumasi Veterinary School.  In the year below me was Ishmael Muriithi, who became Director of Veterinary Services in Kenya and would have gone on to greater things had he not died tragically young. In the same year was Noah Wekesa, who worked in clinical veterinary practice in Kenya for many years before taking up a political career which culminated in his becoming Minister of Tourism. I believe that the University should be proud of assisting these and many other young Africans.

At the end of the morning session we adjourned to the auditorium of the McEwan Hall which is where the stalls were, and where a young Nigerian music scholar  gave a short but delightful recital of Classical and Romantic piano music. Several people showed  interest in my books. We ate a buffet lunch as we chatted to potential purchasers. The picture shows Maxine working on the stand. I did not attend the afternoon session of the symposium which was devoted to the future.  I believe that it should be pointed out to these social “scientists” that Edinburgh University led the way in African development,  and that luckily there were no social scientists around at the time !

BOOK COVER

 

My original intention for the cove of “A Vet in Perú” was to have a painting by Evaristo Callo  Anco, that contained the Andes mountains, alpacas, and  a portrait of me together with my son Richard.  The reason that I singled out just one of my three children was that Richard and I had worked together on a project to investigate the economic benefits to the campesino of controlling parasites in their camelid animals.  Richard had to undertake a project for his “A” Lever examination in Biology and at the time the self-financing veterinary laboratory that I had set up was in a reasonable financial position and so able to offer free veterinary services to the animals of Andean farmers. The reason for the work was to introduce ourselves to the farmers and gain their trust

I sent Evaristo a selection of digital photographs of the volcanoes near the project site, of the herds of llamas and alpacas with which we worked, together with various photos of Richard and me; I explained that I wanted the picture to extend round the spine of the book and he produced this wonderful painting, just as  wanted it and he even had an alpaca looking at the viewer from the spine as the book stood on a shelf.

However, the Publishers decided that a picture of the famous tourist venue Machu Picchu would be a greater attraction to would-be purchasers and decided to use this, although they did add a llama to the cover at my request.  They did agree to use Evaristo’s fine painting as the “frontispiece”. The story of Richard’s project is told in “A Vet in Perú”.

One of the photos I had sent to Evaristo was me wearing a tuxedo: I had sent it to him because it was a good picture of my full face and so the first draft of the picture was  of me wearing a bow tie and tuxedo preparing to undertake veterinary work!  The painting is now in Richard’s collection.  This was soon corrected and the final painting showed us both in working clothes.

Because it was his “A” level project, Richard designed the plan of work with some input from my LABVETSUR colleague and he carried out all the statistical analysis on the results.  Despite my sending a letter to Oundle School, informing them that the vast majority of the planning had been the work of my son, the examiners were unimpressed and Richard only received a “B” grade for his project.  However, he has the satisfaction that the results of his “A” level project being published in two peer-reviewed journals.  He gained entry to Edinburgh University where he read for a Master of Arts degree in biology.

Caballos de Paso

When I was preparing the photographs for “A Vet in Perú” I searched to find a good picture of a caballo de paso with its rider, but could find nothing to compare with the watercolour by Evaristo Callo Anco, which demonstrates clearly what the sport is about. When you look at the rider you can see ‘stillness’ even with the horse is going full tilt.  The rider wears a broad-brimmed hat, a silk neckerchief, a poncho, long spurs, and his feet are held in box stirrups.  All this is clearly seen in Evaristo’s painting. The rider  must seem to be motionless, and he controls the horse with his finger tips on the reins.  Normally four horseman form a team and they perform in unison and demonstrations usually end with the horse lined up facing the audience. The set off at full speed towards the watchers and at the very last moment the horses swerve away, seemingly of their own accord.

The caballo de paso does not trot, but ambles.  For the trot the diagonal legs move together, but for the pacings horse it is the legs on the same side that move, making for a very much smoother ride.  The horse ridden by cowboys in the United States are quarter horses with a  similar action to the caballo de paso; this enables the rider to spend the whole day in the saddle.

There is a much more detailed  description in “A Vet in Perú”, the sales of which have been poor, despite the good critiques it has received.   If you do not wish to own a copy of this book, could I please ask you to request a copy from your local library. To date there have been no critiques posted on the Amazon.com website: who will be the first ?

 

SEA ELEPHANTS

  They can weigh up to 4 tons

They can weigh up to 4 tons

Reviews of ‘A Vet in Perú’ have been very positive; however, some people have told me that they prefer the first volume because there is much in it concerning Africa, and its wild animals. It is true that the wildlife of the mountains and jungles of South American, cannot compare with that of the plains and forests of Africa.  There is nothing on the continent of Africa that can compare with the marine life on the Pacific coast of South America. We saw more wildlife on a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands than anywhere else in Perú; the sea was very rough and the helmsman had difficulty in holding the boat still so that we could watch the antics of the thousands of sea lions, the waddling of the Humboldt penguins or the pelicans swimming majestically by. The movement of the boat made taking photos a difficult business. Not even the wildebeest migrations in the Serengeti compare with those islands for numbers of birds and animals. It brought home to me, the massive numbers of fish that there must be in the sea to feed all these birds and animals. I thought back to my practice days in Malton, Yorkshire where one of the more interesting clients was Flamingo Park Zoo, which had just opened up in Kirby Misperton under the direction of Reg Bloom who had come there from Windsor Safari Park after working as a game trapper in Kenya.  The zoo was constantly acquiring new animals, including a pair of southern elephant seals which had just arrived from South Georgia; they had travelled each in a large open wooden box and for the many weeks on board ship they had not eaten.  We tried them on some herrings, and one had eaten greedily, the second showed no interest in food.  We released the one that was feeding into the newly constructed pool, and I worked out a diet sheet, to slowly build up the fish intake.  I was at a loss to know what to do with the recalcitrant seal, and I finally decided to give a large dose of mixed vitamins by mouth, to stimulate its appetite; I stood on the wooden case then tickled the mouth of the seal with a small stick! – he responded by opening his mouth to grab the stick and as he did so I poured the medicine down his throat – a primitive but effective technique.  It produced a very rapid result and not the one I was expecting: within a few moments the seal started vomiting and out poured a bucketful of intestinal nematode worms! The seal was released into the pool.  This had taken place on a Friday afternoon and I suggested that they feed the seal with one fish that evening, A second fish was to be give the next morning and two more were to be given at midday, and so the quantity was to be built up slowly over the following week.  I was at a dinner party that Saturday night when the phone went.  Our hosts answered it, and indicated that the call was for me. It was Reg. Bloom, and he was very worried:

“Can you get here straight away, that elephant seal you treated is bleeding to death.”

“I will be with you in about half an hour: can you make sure that there are two or three people to help.”

I had no idea what to expect or what I would need to do: I always carried chloral hydrate, which, in those days, was a useful general anaesthetic for large animals (the new anaesthetic agents were still not available for vets).  I arrived at the zoo to find at least a dozen helpers round the pool and the seals swimming round in what appeared to be blackcurrant juice; the one who had refused to eat was obviously in some trouble as it was thrashing about and it had damaged its flippers on the concrete of the pool.

“Tell me what has happened, it seems to me that one of the seals is suffering from severe colic.”

Reg. Bloom pushed forward a young girl who was almost in tears.

“I fed the seal this morning and gave it two fish as you instructed.  I fed him again at lunchtime and gave it three as you instructed, but he looked so mournful that I gave him some more, and in the end I gave him the whole bucketful.”

“Well now we know the problem we can go about sorting it out.  But remember it takes a long time to starve an animal to death but overfeeding can kill in hours.  Can you drain the pool?” I said to Reg. Once we had drained the pool a couple of the workers roped the colicking  half ton beast,  and for the first and only time in my life I gave an intravenous injection to a seal and as the chloral hydrate went in I could see the seal relaxing.  Once the animal was anaesthetized, I was able to give it a detailed examination. Both front flippers had multiple abrasions, which I cleaned with a mild disinfectant solution.  I told Reg. not to refill the pool until the animal had recovered, and the young lady to stick to the diet: I washed up and left.  The seal made a complete recovery. I returned to the dinner party, smelling of disinfectant, but with a good story to tell. Just seeing what one elephant seal could eat in a day and there before my eyes on one small island were thousands of sea lions and hundreds of thousands of sea birds and there were thousands of such islands along the Pacific coast of South America. What a repository of food are the oceans of the world and all the while the boobies were trying to deplete them.

THE LONDON LAUNCH

A VET IN PERÚ

The book is dedicated to four people, three Peruvians and one Brit. Inginiero Luis (Lucho) Lozada Casapia, the man who had the inspiration to ask the British Government for a project to set up a veterinary laboratory, under the auspices not of the government but of the farmers’ co-operative of which he was president; Srta Aurora Salazar Calcinas, the project secretary throughout my stay in the country; Sra Roxana Bustinza de Vergeray, the first employee of the laboratory; and Ing. Reynaldo (Reggie) Roberts Billig, the Honorary British Consul in Arequipa, were the Peruvians. Keith Haskell, CMG, CVO, British Ambassador to Perú, was the Brit.  Keith died before the book was published, but his widow Maria Luisa (Toni) was able to come to the London launch in Daunt Books, Holland Park.  Aurora came to Britain to take part in the launch parties. The Peruvian Ambassador to Great Britain, Srta Susana de la Puente Wiese, who was about to demit office  and consequently too busy to attend, sent Srta Silvana Mendoza to the launch.

Turnout was excellent and people came from Somerset, the Cotswolds, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and Suffolk also my granddaughter Rebecca came from Manchester joining other members of Roger and Maxine’s families. Robert Max from the Barbican Trio, Ralph de Souza and David Waterman of the Endellion Quartet,  who had stayed with us when they gave concerts in Arequipa, also joined the party. It is probable that there were more people from outside the capital than Londoners!  Srta Mendoza opened the formal proceedings and apologized for the absence of the Ambassador.   The talks and readings followed the same pattern as the launches in Edinburgh and London. Toni Haskell was presented with a copy of the book in memory of Keith, and Aurora was given a copy for herself, and books to take back to Perú for Lucho, Reggie and Roxana.

Maxine again produced the Pisco Sours, the papas Huancainas,  and ocopa; there were also the nibbles that Aurora had brought from Perú. There were some friends that we had not seen for several years and so the party went with a swing.

EDINBURGH BOOK LAUNCH

 

Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh is the most delightful bookshop with very friendly staff: it was the perfect place to launch ‘A Vet in Perú’, and a great place for a Peruvian party. David not only did all the carrying and lifting he poured out the pisco withy élan. A goodly crowd turned up although attendance was reduced by ill health and personal problems. I read out the publishers blurb on the book and spoke about farming in Perú and a little about the British aid project. Aurora Salazar, the Peruvian secretary to the project, was then introduced to the audience. I presented a copy of the book to her and to Joan Taylor, the widow of the project administrator. Aurora then read an extract from the book in which the laboratory team travelled up into the Andes to report to the campesinos the results of a research project on improving the productivity of their animals. I then read about one of the battles that I had with the Ministry of Agriculture vets, in which I lost my temper and was so rude that I thought I would be deported: however, my barbs had struck home and the Ministry staff realized that I was right. I was not deported. I concluded by telling the audience about my feelings for the beautiful country that is Perú and the party continued as the pisco flowed.

Those who were unable to get top the launch should head to Golden Hare Books to obtain their copy of the book. I must thank the staff of the bookshop for helping everything go with a swing.

A Vet in Peru

In the  second volume of his memoirs,  Roger tells the story of a pioneering British veterinary aid project, established in conjunction with a local farmers’ co-operative, to bring self-financing veterinary services to thousands of dairy, farmers and llama and alpaca keepers in the high Andes in southern Perú.

This heart-warming story tells how a team of young Peruvians under Roger’s leadership built and delivered a new veterinary service to farmers in an area the size of England against challenging odds. A resurgence of the Shining Path terrorist group threatened the safety of the team and the farmers; terrible inflation of the local currency wreaked havoc with an already tight budget – not to mention constant battles with British and Peruvian bureaucracy.

But the book is not just about animal diseases, the challenges of running an aid project, nor how Roger’s wife, Maxine flourished as a concert pianist. It is about the country that he came to love: the art, the Andean music, the coast with its huge populations of birds and sea mammals, the glorious scenery, the many ancient civilizations and above all the delightful people fighting to survive through a period of massive economic turmoil and  terrorism, yet still managing to smile.

‘A Vet in Perú will be published at the end of September and to celebrate this, Aurora Salazar the former project secretary is coming from Perú for the launch parties which are being held in:

Edinurgh – 21st September

Dumfries – 25th September

London – 27th September.

I have tried to send an invitation to all those people who lived or worked near one of the venues: if you have already replied to an invitation please accept my apologies for bothering you again! If you have not received an invitation to a party and want to come to one, please write to Roger on rwindsora1@aol.com

MARIJUANA

When I was working in Lao PDR,  it was a regular experience, when travelling in a tuk-tuk late at night, to be asked by the driver if I wished to purchase opium. This is the only time in my life when I have been offered the opportunity to purchase non-prescription drugs.  As a result I have never knowingly sampled marijuana.  When I told a colleague in Cambridge that I had never been offered drugs, I was informed that if I wanted them, all I had to do was to go to any college staircase in  the early evening and I would be able to purchase “pot”. I did not avail myself of the opportunity to do so.

However, I have experienced the effects of marijuana.  When living in Botswana we took the family to South Africa to stay with my wife, Maxine’s aunt on the Kinankop.  While we there, Maxine’s cousin arrived with a group of friends and as the bedrooms were full of Windsors they had to sleep on the stoop.  As I was drifting off to sleep with the windows wide open, there wafted in a scent, spicy and exotic and with this in my nostrils, I was away.  It was a wild night full of colourful and erotic dreams and I awoke the next morning wondering where I had been.  Maxine found out from her cousin that they had indeed been smoking “pot” on the stoop before sleeping.  They were all off that morning for the Wild Coast, leaving me to reflect on my wild night.

Life in Botswana was full of parties, where there were a wide variety of nationalities, although Britons and Americans predominated.   A young American woman who taught at the private Maru-a-Pula school informed us that she had baked a special seed-cake for the party and that there was enough for all to have a slice. It was a pleasant enough cake but nothing particularly special and I thought no more about it until I fell into bed, exhausted from an evening of dancing and conviviality. As the night in South Africa, my dreams were both exotic and erotic.  We found out later that the cake has been liberally spiced with marijuana.

Despite these two pleasant experiences, I have never been seriously tempted to go looking for marijuana; had I been offered it by a dealer, who knows…  However I can truly say that I have never knowingly taken “pot”.

HAMLET IN NAIROBI

“More Sherlock Holmes than James Herriot – The Veterinary Detectives” I describe mounting a production of “Cry the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton and bringing all the Botswana school children studying the book for their school certificate to Gaborone to see the play.  The idea was not new to me: when I was working in Kenya, the Theatre Group in Nairobi regularly staged the “set book” so that children educated in rural towns, where there was no theatre, had an opportunity to see the play before they had to take their examinations.  I had the good fortune to secure the part of Guildenstern in Hamlet when it was staged in the National Theatre, Nairobi, directed by John Eames, who had modelled his production on that by Trevor Nunn in the Stratford Memorial Theatre. The set and cast were basically black and white and at the back of the stage were these three “Toblerones” which could present a total black, white or mirrored backdrop. We did 21 performances: on Monday to Friday we played to school audiences and on Saturday there was a matinée as well as an evening performance for paying customers.  

The play was an artistic triumph for Andrew Warwick as Hamlet as well as for John.  But it was an unlucky show: at the dress rehearsal Claudius made a lunge and tore the ligaments in one knee; by the second night Polonius had lost his voice to a fungal infection and was informed that if he went on the stage he would permanently damage his vocal chords: we were able to find a replacement at only a few hours’ notice. On the second Friday night my foot was so painful that I was unable to put on my boots and so played the show in my stockinged feet. That night I was in severe pain and so on the Saturday morning I went to the doctor. He informed me that I had an infected jigger under my big toenail, (a jigger is a burrowing flea that bores in under a toenail and deposits its egg sac: as the larvae develop the increasing size puts on pressure and it becomes very painful).  The doctor, cut back the nail and removed the sac, dressed and bandaged the wound.
“You must not put your foot to the ground for 48 hours or you might get sepsis.”

I phoned John to say that I could not go on but would sit in the wings and say my lines while someone walked my part.  John had a better idea and from where he got a Victorian basket wheel chair I never found out,  but it enabled Rosencrantz to push me round the stage.  Nobody thought it odd.  By the following Tuesday I was able to get my boot on and gave up the wheelchair.

I enjoyed being part of the team and was often on the stage with little to say and I was able to watch the audience.  Many of the children knew the play well and I could see them mouthing the words.  There was no need for a prompt; should an actor dry up then a voice from the audience set him on his way. I like to think that our productions for the African children helped them with their studies and possibly imbued them with a love of Shakespeare.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén