The digital revolution in animal health

Advancements in digital monitoring and surveillance are transforming the animal health landscape, bringing improvements in speed and efficiency to veterinary care. Technologies like smart sensors or 24/7 temperature and sound monitoring enables veterinarians to pinpoint the first signs of change in an animal’s health or behavior. This means individual-level care and treatment can be provided to groups of hundreds or thousands of animals.

Read on to learn about the technologies making this possible…

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Digital technologies are some of the most promising tools available for improving animal welfare. Their ability to work in tandem with one another allows us to anticipate how an animal’s health will evolve, allow for preventative or proactive action, and facilitate rapid treatment when necessary.
Some of the technologies leading the way include:
  • Sound detection technologies use microphones and sound analysis to monitor for audible signs of illness, such as coughs or respiratory changes. Hearing a single animal’s cough among a group of 100 livestock is nearly impossible for a person, but not for these tools
  • Thermal imaging uses heat sensors and cameras to monitor changes in temperature within groups of animals down to specific body parts such as hoofs and udders. Real-time evaluation like this can detect the first signs of illness, allowing for earlier diagnosis.
  • Gene analysis: Gene analysis is an emerging area that could allow practitioners to predict possible health challenges in an animal’s lifetime through a genetic risk profile. This nascent area could help veterinarians create a care roadmap early in an animal’s life.
Tackling some of the biggest challenges we face like hunger, sustainability and AMR requires improving animal health. Digital technologies will play a fundamental role. Learn more in our report New Frontiers in Animal Care: The Innovations Shaping the Future 
For decades, diagnostics have been relied upon to accurately detect the presence of disease, parasites, etc. However, through digital technologies, diagnostics can not only detect health changes, they can predict and prevent them. Here’s how:
  • Trend analysis: Predictive diagnostics can identify trends in wellness data that human experts may overlook, creating new possibilities for early disease detection.
  • Artificial intelligence: AI or machine learning-based diagnostics use algorithms to analyze patterns in data and determine the likelihood of illness by matching the data to recognized symptoms and disease profiles.
  • Power of scale: Diagnostics done ‘at scale’ serve as a powerful form of surveillance, allowing for diseases to be tracked across borders and enabling better national or regional biosecurity strategies.
Global attention and investment often underrecognizes the essential role of animal diagnostics in not only detecting disease but also preventing it. The expansion of reliable, effective diagnostics could improve our understanding of disease, strengthen the health of animals, and improve sustainability efforts.
“Digital technologies can improve methods for farm-to-fork traceability by strengthening animal disease control and prevention, better managing food safety and fraud risks, ensuring compliance with animal production and food standards, simplifying procedures, facilitating trade and raising consumer awareness.”

UN Food and Agriculture Organization 
The FAO and OECD estimate that most farm yield improvements in the next decade will come from increasing productivity through innovation. That's why a continual stream of new technologies, including digital, will be essential. 
Digital technologies are allowing us to not only better monitor disease, but actually predict it before it happens! Here’s how…
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