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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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Rabbit Awareness Week set to return this summer

News Story 1
 Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is returning this summer, running from 24-28 June 2024. The theme for this year will be 'Healthy Diet, Happy Bunnies'.

The focus on rabbits' diet comes after the most recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report report revealed that 42 per cent of veterinary professionals identified inappropriate diet as one of the five most important rabbit welfare issues that need to be address.

The campaign will include veterinary blogs, videos, and digital waiting room resources. Practices can sign up to receive updates about RAW. 

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News Shorts
CVS Group hit by cyber attack

CVS Group, which owns more than 450 veterinary practices in the UK, has been hit by a cyber attack.

In a statement, the group said the incident involved unauthorised external access to a limited number of its IT systems. As soon as the attack was discovered, the group took its IT systems temporarily offline, causing 'considerable operational disruption'.

It has warned that the security steps taken and ongoing plans to move its operational systems and IT infrastructure to the Cloud are likely to have an ongoing impact over a number of weeks.

Due to the risk that personal information was accessed, CVS has informed the Information Commissioner's Office. The company is working with third party consultants to investigate the incident.