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Mobile technology helps Thai producers tackle poultry disease

A mobile phone app is promoting better poultry disease control in Thailand by helping producers identify, report and respond to outbreaks more easily.

Scientists at Chiang Mai University have developed a smartphone surveillance system that allows users to pinpoint disease reporting in real time, reports Poultry International.

Called the Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) app, the system aims to combine modern technology with community engagement, encouraging local volunteers to report signs of disease.

It hopes to tackle the potential reservoir of disease which could be lurking in the country’s extensive number of backyard flocks, helping officials manage outbreaks before they become serious.

Funded with help of a $2 million grant from the Skoll Global Threats Fund, which supports projects to address pandemics, the app works by asking community volunteers to log in every day to update the system — regardless of whether there has been an outbreak.

If a disease is suspected, the volunteers take a photograph of the sick bird, select their location, and fill in a short report on what has been seen.

The reports are processed by the PODD team — many of whom are veterinarians — who can either ask for more information or send out a team for investigation.

If something significant is found, emails are sent to the app user, the head of the village, local government officials and public health officials so a coordinated response can be mounted.

Since the app’s launch in 2015, officials said people have become more engaged with talking about and responding to disease, with farmers asking to learn how to vaccinate animals or build quarantine stations.

The project is now being transferred to the Thai government, which plans to expand the scheme across several provinces.

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