Features Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 05:30
Rupesh Dutta (IANS) | The News Minute | September 21, 2014 | 01:46 pm IST Jaipur: Imagine an android application that can help in successfully carrying out the sterilisation and vaccination process of stray dogs! This may soon be a reality using mobile application, "Mission Rabies", which has so far helped in sterilising and vaccinating 20,000 street dogs in just over six months in Goa. Developed at the London-based Imperial College, the android application allows dog catching teams to record statistical data of dogs they have caught helping in a smooth sterilisation and vaccination process. The information that is uploaded on the phone includes the dog's gender, age, health status and reason for their capture. "Rabies can be eliminated, only if 70 percent of street dogs in an area are vaccinated and sterilised," Kate Shervell, international director, Mission Rabies, a global welfare organisation working to eliminate rabies from the world by 2030, told IANS. "This concept is simple, but the implementation of this practice is often logistically challenging and is likely why current efforts have been unsuccessful on a large scale," she said. She said once the stray dogs are caught, vaccination and the sterilisation is carried out on them. The NGO is the only one using this app. It approached various Indian states seeing the high rate of cases of rabies, a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and animals. The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually one to three months. It can vary from less than one week to more than one year. Early symptoms may include fever and tingling at the site of exposure, followed by either violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, and fear of water or an inability to move parts of the body and confusion followed by loss of consciousness. In both cases, once the symptoms appear, it nearly always results in death. A 2013 report of the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) said there were only 232 deaths due to dog bite. But activists estimate it is more than 5000 humans lose their lives annually due to rabies caused by dog bites. In one recent incident in Delhi, a two-month-old baby died after she was mauled by a stray dog at her home. According to the NGO, Goa was the first state to use the app. The results were out in just six months when the state government was able to sterlise and vaccinate 20,000 street dogs. Many other authorities have approached them. Chennai (Tamil Nadu) could be next in line to use this technology. "At the veterinary clinic, the dog's surgery details are entered. At the same time a photo of the dog on the operating table is also fed on the phone in case verification is ever required," Shervell, who was recently in India to attend the India for Animal Conference organised by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organistion (FIAPO) here, told IANS. Shervell said once the process of data feeding is complete, the survey team members again use the phones to survey parts of the region to check the percentage of neutered and vaccinated dogs. She said the application can be used to map rabies cases over time and monitor the effectiveness of the efforts in reducing rabies and the level of vaccination done. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) around 205 billion people in 100 countries are at risk of contracting this disease. It is the tenth biggest cause of infectious disease and is mostly reported from Africa, Asia and South America.Shervell also emphasised that Mission Rabies app is very cost effective as it just requires an android enabled phone and can help the government to bring down the high expenditure on the catching of dogs and sterilising and vaccinating them. WHO data shows that post-bite immunisation cost the Indian economy over $25 million a year, yet more people die of rabies in India than anywhere else in the world. S. Chinny Krishna, vice chairman of the Chennai-based, Animal Welfare Board of India, a government statutory body said: "To carry on a dog sterilisation or vaccination process it is very important to know the statistics of dogs in an area. Such an app can help gather the statistics for stray dogs, those are needed to be sterilised."Explaining the app, Krishna said the app has four pre-made simple forms- vaccination form to enter details of dogs vaccinated, surgery form for details of dogs undergoing surgery, survey form for use by survey teams assessing the dog population and rabies case entry form. "This mobile technology is allowing us to effectively implement and monitor mass canine vaccination campaigns and ensure that money and resources are being invested in the most effective way. "It is bringing us one step closer to eliminate rabies from India," Krishna said.

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