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An App Takes On Rabies in India: Smartphone app to help eradicate the deadly disease?

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Posted on February 5, 2015: Researchers have developed a bespoke app to track stray dogs vaccinated against rabies to determine when to step up the vaccination drive. This experiment has helped push the number of vaccinated stray dogs on the streets of Ranchi to 70% of the total stray dog population. To keep the level of risk of the disease being transmitted to human beings at the lowest possible level, 70% of the dog population being vaccinated is the target to hit.

Teams of researchers from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom vaccinated 6,000 dogs across 18 wards of Ranchi in Jharkhand. The number of marked and vaccinated dogs were contrasted with the number of unmarked, unvaccinated dogs. The smartphone app called Mission Rabies was used to instantly upload all the information about the vaccinated dogs including their exact location. In the areas where the vaccinated dog population fell below 70% of the total, the app helped inform authorities that catching teams needed to be redeployed in the area.

“We have shown that mobile technology can help to monitor the efforts of large-scale vaccination of free roaming dogs in real time This allows us to identify areas where vaccination needs to be increased to meet the 70 per cent threshold and cut the risk of the disease being passed to people,” Dr Richard Mellanby, Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellow, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said in a release.

Raving about Rabies

Over 50,000 people and many more dogs succumb to rabies every year around the globe, most of these deaths being concentrated in South Asia and India. In many countries, vaccinating dogs against the deadly, incurable disease has helped eradicate it. This study and Mission Rabies app seek to overcome the challenge of free-roaming dogs in India and South Asia. The study was published in Bio Med Central in December 2015.

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