Sunday, June 25, 2006

In sickness and in health

Howler monkeys like all of us suffer from ill health from time to time. Hopefully not serious or life threatening but nevertheless at the time, distressing.
Some three months ago, I notice that Sussy had lost some muscle tone in her back legs and had developed a wobbly gait. Sussy is normally very active and a great gymnast despite her age. Now she preferred to stay in her bedroom and only move about when necessary. With Gabriela’s aid, we contacted a well-known and trusted group of veterinarians in Valencia and immediately, Gabriela transported Sussy to their offices for tests and treatment.
She underwent an exhaustive series of tests that revealed a parasitic infection in her blood. She came home the same day with a prescription for drugs. At first she did not like the oral medicine, even though it has a honey flavor. We knew that she liked ice cream, so over the next weeks we bought different flavors of cream to present the drug. She looked forward to my visits with the ice cream every morning. Over the next three weeks, we applied the medicine and daily we could see improvement in her health. After three weeks of this treatment, she was back to her normal athletic self. We thank our friend Gabriela for her help in this crisis.

Schatov developed a swelling on his face, just alongside his nose on the right side. At first, we thought this was an insect bite and waited for a head to appear. When nothing happened after a few days, we suspected that the problem could be dental. We looked inside Schatov’s mouth and there low and behold we saw a blacken tooth surrounded by inflammation. We called our now trusted veterinarian in Valencia and asked if he had a dental expert experienced in small animals. Fortunately, he had a colleague with just that experience. We chauffeured Schatov to the doctor’s clinic and he underwent anesthesia for the extraction. The doctor discovered two rotten teeth not just the one we had observed. Later that night a somewhat sleepy Schatov returned to Canaote minus two bad teeth.. He slept that night in my bed until he awoke early demanding his breakfast. For some two weeks following the extraction he still had a swelling on his face but every day it was less until it disappeared altogether. Today there is no sign whatsoever of the problem. I do not know why but Howlers naturally like to clean their teeth with paste and a toothbrush. I first observed this with MonaLisa who cleans her teeth with Colgate every day. It took no great instruction to get Schatov into the habit. He gets a brush, ready for use, everyday with his breakfast.

Imanol had the most difficult condition to diagnose. In the evening of his first day here, he developed a straight-line hair loss across the top of his head. At first I thought that somehow he had come in contact with a fan and that the trauma was mechanical. Next day the condition was progressively worse ruling out the fan. The development was incredibly rapid so also ruling out bacterial infection. The loss was linear making fungus infection unlikely. We decided that the only culprit could be lice. We sent photographs of the hair loss to a skin expert and they confirmed our suspicion. On their advice we took scrapings with a little glycerin and submitted it for analysis. Back came the answer, scabies.
Over the next few days, the infection spread to a larger area of the frontal scalp. Anti lice drugs were applied and the infestation stopped. However, it took a few weeks for hair to grow again over that area. Thankfully, he now has a vigourous head of healthy hair.

No comments: