Target: health

Lt. Anne-Claude Gouy
First published in
SFOR Informer#147, September 12, 2002

If you see a doctor or a veterinarian around you, in the dining facility, or in the bathroom, don't be scared. On the contrary, you should be reassured, because all of them work for the same target: your health. Day by day, they make sure that there isn't any danger for the soldier's health while working in the theatre, neither chemical or microbiological, by controlling everything on a regular basis. But your health also depends on yourself.

Rajlovac - On Sept. 5, 2002 a small military group made their way to the post dining facility carrying with them strange looking boxes. These folks weren’t the usual customers, not this time, and they won't be taking away any food in order to make a picnic.

Bon appetite!
“We've got to be discreet, because when people see us, they tend to be scared, especially when they see us in the dining facility. It should be the contrary,” said Maj. Sabine Sauer, German veterinarian. Once a month, a medical team comes from Rajlovac to take samples and place control measures on everything we eat, and above all, on the camp’s potable water. Controlling water is 80 percent of the job of the German Field Hospital lab. in Rajlovac. The chemists and veterinarians take samples, some of these are analyzed immediately in the kitchen: chlorine, pH, and conductivity.
“We make the chemical test here, and take back the other samples to the lab for bacteriological tests. But before all, we also have to taste the water as you would taste a wine or a meal: smell it, look it, appreciate it.” explained Dr. Martin Weber, German chemist. The lab does the microbiological test in Rajlovac because microbes need time to grow. Concerning the chimical water test, a gas chromatographic system and a high pressure liquid system are used to give the data about 1,500 unknown substances. And even though this lab is operational, some tests are sent to Germany, particularly concerning the uranium and mercury.
“There are a lot of labs in this country, but we can't rely on their data processing because they often have no Quality assurance programme,” said Sauer.

What a biting
Taking care of the whole military staff also means the dogs. In the theatre, there are guard dogs, dogs for drug screening, and explosivedetection dogs. They are under veterinarian control because they have to go back to their country healthy, and during their stay, they mustn't transmit any diseases.
“The common veterinarian target is to determineany risk for the soldier. We make a complete biochemistry blood analysis for each dog before its arrival in the theatre,” said Capt. Florence Calvet, French veterinarian. And before they leave the theatre, she gives them a visit. Calvet is also in charge of vehicle disinfection and hygienic control, it's very difficult because “ … sanitary statute is very precarious in the theatre. Military veterinarians also try to help BiH in establishing a reporting programme by the way of the Collaborating Centre for Rabies Surveillance and Research,” she said.
But the real problem doesn't come from the military dogs, but from irresponsible persons. In BiH, rabies is still current, and each cat or little dog you see in the theatre, even in your camp, could be a carrier, or transmit to you the leptospirose.
“Even if they seem so pretty, don't give them food, and don't touch them. They could be mortal for you and others. It's difficult not to do it, but it might save some lives,” said Calvet.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Germany
SFOR at Work

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Photo: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

WO2 Uwe Meyer makes chemical test on place.

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Photo: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

German Major (Dr.) Sabine Sauer takes some pizza sample in sterilised bags. For one test, the veterinarians need almost 100 grams of each meal.

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Photo: Lt. Anne-Claude Gouy

Jox doesn't seem to be as old as he is really. This dog is in exceptional form. Only his teeth reveal his true age.

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Photo: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

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