While COVID-19 may have focused minds on the impact that fast spreading diseases can have, the significant damage that viruses can do is not something that most of think about most of the time.

For poultry, and other livestock producers, however, rapidly spreading diseases are a constant worry. In developing countries this concern is often amplified due a lack of resources and the greater extent of any damage that an outbreak may cause.

Going some way to remedy this, poultry farmers in Southeast Asia are now benefiting from a new phone app that can help them to recognize and manage infectious diseases. Although the app was developed with the Philippines in particular in mind, its developers note that it is applicable to any country, although some of the diseases listed will be rare in more developed industries.

Pocket Guide

The app, The Pocket Guide for Poultry Diseases, offers poultry producers useful tips on how to maintain a healthy population of chickens along with information on flock management and disease detection. It was developed by researchers at the University of Liverpool Institute of Infection and Global Health, an international research center dedicated to improving the health and well-being of humans and animals, as part of a wider research project to tackle poultry disease in Thailand and the Philippines, being led by Professor Paul Wigley.

Wrigley notes that smartphone adoption across Southeast Asia has grown massively over the last few years. In the Philippines, almost 50% of the population has smartphones and they are the main source of internet access, making it an ideal vehicle to help farmers.

Additionally, a PDF version of the guide has also been produced, which can be used by farmers and veterinarians in the field.

But farmers in the region may be in line for a further boost to their abilities to identify. Discussions are ongoing to link the app to another, developed by a team led by the U.K.’s Brunel University, which connects a diagnostic device to a smartphone app and can diagnose six key poultry diseases through DNA and RNA samples.

The Pocket Guide was developed and designed by the mobile team within the University of Liverpool’s Computing Services Department and supported by U.K. Research and Innovation Global Impact Accelerator award and a BBRSC Newton Fund award.