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Weekly Overview: Pig Health and Welfare in the Age of Communication

14 July 2014

GLOBAL - In the last week, there has been new of a smartphone app that is helping to improve the communication of animal disease issues in Uganda, and a free online course on animal welfare has attracted 23,000 participants from across the world. There is also an update on news of porcine epidemic diarrhoea and swine fevers.

A new mobile application is successfully supporting Uganda's veterinary technicians and its wider use is being encouraged in other rural areas.

The EMPRES-i Event Mobile Application (EMA) allows national veterinary authorities to use smartphones to report disease outbreaks, according to FAO.

The app was tested last year in a pilot in Uganda and participants confirmed the benefits of the surveillance of animal disease, and urged that it should be expanded across the country. FAO is encouraging other countries to use the app to improve disease reporting in the field as mobile phone coverage is often more reliable than the internet in rural areas of Africa.

Previously, one of the biggest challenges faced by Ugandan veterinary authorities in the surveillance and control of animal diseases was the timely reporting of data. The EMA allows veterinary technicians to enter key epidemiological data into a global database directly from the field using their smartphones. The data, which is automatically geo-referenced, is collected in a report which, after verification, can be published on the EMPRES-i public web site, or maintained in the internal database.

The app also allows users direct access to the database. It provides a mapping functionality, called 'near me', which generates data on disease outbreaks in the user's area.

A free online course that offers people the chance to learn more about the ethics and science of animal welfare begins today (14 July).

The five-week course from the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College is designed for people with no previous knowledge of veterinary medicine or animal science. More than 23,000 people from 152 countries signed up for this Massive Open Online Course.

India is preoted to be launching a dedicated television channel - Kisan TV - for farmers soon, with real-time information on new farming techniques, water conservation, farming etc.

Also on pig health, the latest report on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea from the United States shows that the rate of increase in positive cases continues to decline; there were 7,603 positive swine accessions in 30 states in the latest report. Porcine Delta Coronavirus has been detected on 325 farms in 15 states.

While stopping short of a ban, new restrictions are to be put into place in the European Union on the import of live pigs from countries with PED.

Four new outbreaks of African Swine Fever have been reported in Poland and Latvia; one of the Latvian outbreaks involved domestic pigs. Latvia has also reported two new outbreaks of Classical Swine Fever.

Following industry consultation, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in England looks likely to pursue its proposal to consolidate legislation for the control an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), Classical Swine Fever (CSF) or Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD) in Great Britain into a single piece of legislation.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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