• Connected canines

    Connected canines

    In Tanzania, researchers are using facial recognition technology to combat the transmission of rabies from animals to people.

    As part of the initiative, a smartphone app is being field-tested in a mass dog-vaccination project in Tanzania’s Mara region by Washington State University’s (WSU) Paul G Allen school for Global Animal Health and US company PiP My Pet Technologies.

    The app – originally developed by PiP to reunite lost pets with their owners – is now being employed to keep track of whether stray or lost dogs have been vaccinated. Each vaccination is logged in a database, reducing the need for microchips – technology that can be expensive and time-consuming to implement.

    The WHO reports that almost all human rabies across the globe is transmitted from rabid dogs, killing about 59 000 people each year. Felix Lankester, director of WSU’s Rabies Free Tanzania programme, says the new technology accelerates the process of animal vaccination at a lower cost, preventing more deaths.

    ‘Not only could this technology improve the efficiency with which we roll out mass dog vaccination across Tanzania right now, it could [also] tell us which vaccination strategies are most effective.’

    WSU vaccinated more than 275 000 dogs across Tanzania and Kenya last year, and the campaign is now nearing 2 million vaccinations.

    10 March 2020
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images