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Artificial intelligence to identify equine ocular disease
Artificial intelligence could lead to more horses getting an earlier diagnosis.
The tool can diagnose moon blindness in horses.

An artificial intelligence (AI) tool could be used to diagnose equine recurrent uveitus (ERU) in horses.

The inflammatory ocular disease, also known as ‘moon blindness’, can lead to blindness or loss of the affected eye.

ERU is one of the more common eye diseases in horses, and can have a major economic impact. A quick, correct diagnosis can minimise the lasting damage.

The research team created an AI tool, which was trained with photographs of diseases to identify the patterns which may lead to a diagnosis.

To assess the efficacy of their deep learning tool, researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität München asked 150 veterinary surgeons to evaluate 40 photos of horses’ eyes. The pictures included a mixture of healthy eyes, eyes with ERU, and eyes with other diseases.

Equine veterinary surgeons completed the test with a 76 per cent success rate, meanwhile veterinary surgeons working in small animal or mixed practice identified the eye issues correctly 67 per cent of the time.

When the AI image analysis tool was given the same challenge, the probability of receiving the correct answer was 93 per cent.

The researchers say that, while the difference was not statistically significant, it proved that AI could reliably recognise ERU. This could support veterinary surgeons with the diagnosis of potential emergency cases.

This could lead to more horses getting an earlier diagnosis, increasing the likelihood of them receiving prompt treatment and saving affected eyes. It will also enable less experienced veterinary surgeons to differentiate between ERU and other opthalmic diseases.

The AI, deep learning tool is web-app based, and can be used through a smartphone device.

Professor Anna May, who led the research team, said: "It's not meant to replace veterinarians, but can help them reach the correct diagnosis.

“It is particularly valuable for less experienced professionals or for horse owners in regions where vets are few and far between,"

The full study can be found in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.