The World Equine Veterinary Association (WEVA) held an intermediate meeting May 28-29 in Debrecen, the second largest city of Hungary. The association hosted the meeting jointly with the Hungarian Association of Equine Practitioners, the World Organization of Hungarian Veterinarians, and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). The day before, the Federation of European Equine Veterinary Associations held a General Assembly, at which I represented WEVA in my role as president, along with Gary Norwood, DVM, senior vice president of WEVA.

Practitioners discussed a variety of current topics, including veterinary education, the identification of horses, disease surveillance, medicine availability, and the responsible use of medicines. It is amazing how similar problems affecting veterinary surgeons are worldwide, and maintaining international dialogue is essential to facilitate and coordinate the veterinary response to such challenges. We are only a small profession, but speaking with one voice empowers us.

The intermediate meeting itself was in the Kolcsey Convention Centre and was undoubtedly a triumph due in no small part to the skill and hard work of the Hungarian organizing committee. There were almost 250 delegates and speakers from 19 countries. One speaker traveled from as far away as Trinidad and Tobago! The majority of delegates came from Hungary and the surrounding countries, such as Romania, Ukraine, and Serbia. The simultaneous translation from English to Hungarian was of the highest caliber, as were the audiovisual aids.

The first day of the meeting was devoted to surgery and clinical work that could be carried out without sophisticated veterinary facilities, and later in the day there were lectures on designing and building a clinic, the organization of private practice, and equine insurance in the U.K. Although equine private practice is still at a relatively embryonic stage in Hungary, there was good feedback from the delegates, clearly indicating an enthusiasm for possible future professional development.

The second day dealt with infectious diseases. The morning session, chaired by Josh Slater, BVSc, BVM&S, PhD, Dipl. ECEIM, MRCVS, former president of the British Equine Veterinary Association and professor of equine clinical studies at the Royal Veterinary College in the U.K, featured an eloquent overview of the current status of Rhodococcus infection, equine infectious anemia, influenza, and babesiosis (equine piroplasmosis), with notable contributions from local speakers about the disease situation in Eastern Europe. The afternoon session dealt with more exotic diseases such as those caused by equine viral arteritis (EVA), West Nile virus, and African horse sickness. The effects of globalization of the equine industry as well as climate change have significantly increased the risk of such diseases occurring in parts of the world from which they were considered to be free. Indeed, we heard that West Nile virus is now considered to be endemic in some parts of Europe.

The social program involved a visit to Hortobagy in the east of Hungary, where a large national park has been created. The area is very flat and significant wetlands are important for a wide variety of native and migrant birds. However, we were there to see a fantastic display of traditional horsemanship at Mata, the home of the Hortobagy Stud, where the famous Nonius horses are bred. This area is called the puszta and is the home of long-horned Hungarian grey cattle and black sheep, as well as the traditional herdsmen, the gulyas (literally, "cowboys"), who gave the name to goulash soup, the classic dish of the region. We saw not only astonishing horsemanship, but also salt wagons pulled by the long-horned cattle that were such a vital part of the economy of the region over the centuries.

Every WEVA intermediate meeting has a local flavor of its own, and this one was no exception. However, what I will remember most vividly is the friendliness shown by everyone and the high quality organization of the meeting by a group of veterinary surgeons that was hungry to share scientific information and had a fierce pride in the history and traditions of the region. I took the opportunity before I flew home to spend a day looking around Budapest, which must rank as one of the most beautiful historic cities anywhere in the world. A truly memorable meeting.

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