Friday, August 22, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Army major serves animals and people

armyvet1W

Army Major Rick Tucker checks the age of a camel in Chad by examining its teeth. Rick Tucker/Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | October 29, 2013 |

By Trina Wood

Rick Tucker was a veterinary student at UC Davis on Sept. 11, 2001. He knew then that he would join the Army at some point in the future.

After graduating in 2003, he worked in private practice for four years as a large-animal veterinarian — one year in Turlock, three in Visalia — before he received his military commission in 2007.

After four months of basic training for medical officers in San Antonio, Tucker was given his first assignment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash., where, ironically, he was “stuck” in a small-animal practice.

“It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I joined,” he said. “But I did enjoy being able to help the military working dogs.”

By Thanksgiving 2008, Tucker was deployed to Afghanistan in a supportive role. In addition to serving as a veterinarian, he helped oversee food safety programs, checked refrigeration temperatures and storage conditions, and approved sources of food and water for troops.

While in Afghanistan, Tucker had his first chance to work with dromedary camels, which are critical for dairy production in many parts of the world.

“That’s where my obsession with camels began,” he joked.

Following a tour in Afghanistan, Tucker traveled to Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Burkina Faso. In addition to camels, he worked with cattle, teaching artificial insemination techniques, deworming and providing additional training to local veterinarians and paraveterinary professionals.

“When we can assist in the health of animals in these regions that people rely on for dairy and meat production, we also improve their lives,” he said. “That leads to greater economic stability for the region as a whole.”

While in Senegal and Burkina Faso helping tribesmen establish an artificial insemination program, Tucker found it difficult to determine the best method to synchronize the herd’s estrous cycles.

The villagers used a different technique than Tucker had used before, and he wanted to conduct a study to determine which method would yield the best results.

“I didn’t know enough at that point about how to set up the study or how many animals to include for statistically significant sample sizes,”  he said. So Tucker contacted some colleagues from the school who were graduates of UCD’s master’s of preventive veterinary medicine program to get advice.

“I decided if I’m going to keep doing this in developing countries and want people to trust that my techniques would be effective, I needed an MPVM,” he said.

The Army requires long-term health care education from medical officers to advance in their career, from residencies or MPVM to Ph.D. degrees.

“You just have to figure out where and what you want to do, get accepted, and the Army covers the educational expense,” said Tucker, who was recently board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. “I knew the MPVM program at UC Davis would provide me the expertise I needed.”

Tucker enrolled in the program in the fall of 2012. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in international agricultural development.

In return for supporting the three years of school, the Army will get five additional years of service from Tucker.

As part of his MPVM, Tucker is collaborating with Addis Ababa University and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, a laboratory for the World Organization of Animal Health, to set up a large study on camel disease in Ethiopia. The disease is transmitted among camels by biting flies and causes acute or chronic illness that manifests in wasting, anemia, abortion and decreased milk supply. Those camels that aren’t symptomatic become carriers.

If the grant is approved, Tucker would travel to Ethiopia in the spring or summer to set up a study on trypanosomosis, a common ailment among camels worldwide and related to sleeping sickness in humans.

“While camels are robust animals, they are reproductively inefficient and don’t start calving until the age of 5 and calve only every two years,” Tucker said. “So it’s critical to address this disease in setting up a dairy industry in Ethiopia where increased milk yields would impact human health and nutrition.”

A secondary focus of the project will be studying brucellosis, a zoonotic disease, in camel milk.

“This project is really the perfect marriage between a MPVM and master’s of international agriculture development,” Tucker said. “It would allow researchers the chance to get some hard data on camel disease in Ethiopia and build economic stabilization in the region.”

For more information about the MPVM program, see www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/mpvm. The application period will be open until Jan. 15.

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

City to overhaul its sprinkler heads, other water-wasters

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
No easy task: History buffs still trying to save building

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
DHS musicians back from summer in Italy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Davis indecent-exposure suspect pleads no contest

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Not-guilty plea entered in Woodland homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Russian aid convoy reaches war-torn Luhansk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Putah Creek Council appoints new executive director

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

Communitywide ice bucket challenge on Sunday

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Parents’ Night Out features Vacation Bible School

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Afternoon tours of city wetlands resume Sept. 6

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Yolo County golf tournament enters fourth year

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Saylor will meet constituents at Peet’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Event will unveil mural celebrating food justice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Prunes take center stage at last agri-tour of the summer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

In need of food? Apply for CalFresh

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Writing couple stops at Davis bookstore

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Explorit: Final Blast show returns for second year

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A5

Record drought saps California honey production

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
World travelers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Seniors set to stroll through Arboretum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Weightlifters causing a racket

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Wage plan has a big flaw

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Bridging the digital divide with computational thinking

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
No support for militarization

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

A better use for this vehicle

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Police are our friends, right?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Watts likes what he’s seen in keen Aggie DB competition

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Watney and McIlroy struggle at start of The Barclays

By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B1

 
Light-hitting Cats fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Giants win nightcap in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Big West soccer coaches have high hopes for UCD men

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘If I Stay’: Existential angst

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11

 
Davis Chinese Film Festival to kick off with 1994 favorite

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Rock Band campers perform at E Street Plaza

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Natsoulas to host mural conference

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Yolo Mambo to play free show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

Car Care: Teenagers not driving safe cars, study shows

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Car Care: Feeling the summer heat? Your car battery is too

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Three-wheeled Elio gets closer to going on sale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, August 22, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6