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App could help fight rabies, study finds
The app was tested at a vaccination clinic in Tanzania.
The technology can identify dogs that have been vaccinated.

A new mobile phone app has been developed by researchers at Washington State University (WSU) to help rabies vaccination teams identify individual dogs.

The app’s algorithm identifies key features of a dog’s face and compares them to images of other dogs in its archive, highlighting possible matches. The user can then decide if it is a match.

Once the dog has been identified, the team can see whether it has previously been vaccinated.

Felix Lankester, the principal investigator of the study, said: “When carrying out mass vaccination, one of the major problems that we face is trying to identify which dogs have and haven’t been vaccinated. For example, microchips are too expensive to use at the scales needed to eliminate rabies, and collars can be removed by owners.”

The researchers tested the app at a rabies vaccination clinic in Tanzania. The app helped users correctly identify 76.2 per cent of vaccinated dogs and 98.9 per cent of unvaccinated dogs in nearby villages, after substandard images and incorrect information had been removed from the database.

Approximately 60,000 people die of rabies globally each year, mostly due to dog bites. To achieve herd immunity and significantly reduce transmission of the virus, around 40 per cent of dogs in an area need to be vaccinated.

The app has been created in collaboration with PiP My Pet, a Canadian company which has previously created a facial recognition app to help find lost pets. The developers are now looking for funding to help them improve the app.

Dr Lankester added: “We developed this app to see if facial recognition might work, and it’s showing great promise in helping us to achieve that goal.”

The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Image © Shutterstock

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Bristol uni celebrates 75 years of teaching vets

News Story 1
 The University of Bristol's veterinary school is celebrating 75 years of educating veterinary students.

Since the first group of students were admitted in October 1949, the school has seen more than 5,000 veterinary students graduate.

Professor Jeremy Tavare, pro vice-chancellor and executive dean for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: "I'm delighted to be celebrating Bristol Veterinary School's 75 years.

"Its excellence in teaching and research has resulted in greater understanding and some real-world changes benefiting the health and welfare of both animals and humans, which is testament to the school's remarkable staff, students and graduates." 

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News Shorts
RCVS HQ to temporarily relocate

The headquarters of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is to move temporarily, ahead of its permanent relocation later in the year.

From Monday, 26 February 2024, RCVS' temporary headquarters will be at 2 Waterhouse Square, Holborn, London. This is within walking distance of its current rented offices at The Cursitor, Chancery Lane.

RCVS have been based at The Cursitor since February 2022, following the sale of its Westminster premises the previous March.

However, unforeseen circumstances relating to workspace rental company WeWork filing for bankruptcy means The Cursitor will no longer operate as a WeWork space. The new temporary location is still owned by WeWork.

RCVS anticipates that it will move into its permanent location at Hardwick Street, Clerkenwell, later on in the year.