Maasai vets in East Africa are using mobile phones to monitor diseases including anthrax and rabies as part of a partnership involving London-based academics. The Google mobile phones are helping to record how diseases are spreading in order to bolster preventative action, including vaccination campaigns. The new project in rural Kenya is led by the charityVetaid and is backed by Google UK, which has donated 23 G1 Android devices to the surveillance effort. Data relating to more than 86,000 animals from 1,600 farms has already been logged via the mobile phones in the last month.
Deadly diseases, versatile phones
The vets and community animal health workers are using the phones in the Kajiado district, central Kenya. The project relies upon the software EpiCollect – a mobile data collection tool which has been loaded onto the devices and was created by researchers from Imperial College London. EpiCollect allows the vets to upload their findings to a central website which plots where diseases are occurring. A wide range of diseases are being monitored: the deadly cattle disease East Coast Fever; anthrax and rabies, which affect both animals and humans; Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), which affects sheep and goats; and foot and mouth disease – a potentially fatal disease affecting cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The phones have also been loaded with a range of educational resources, including photos and videos, for veterinary fieldworkers.