Wearable biosensors for livestock are currently in development that will monitor their health, particularly in dairy cows, with the aim of identifying brucellosis at an earlier stage.
Cranfield University is the collaboration’s academic lead, working with Scottish companies Biotangents and IceRobotics.
The IceRobotics product will be non-invasively placed on livestock and will monitor their daily activities. Changes in behaviour, which may indicate illness, can be monitored from the animal’s activity information.
IceRobotics, along with Cranfield University’s Dr Jerry Luo, will further develop its data analysis for the detection of brucellosis.
Dr Jerry Luo, an expert in wearables and data mining, said, “The advanced data processing algorithm we’re developing will enable us to track individual cow health more accurately and report illness at a very early stage.”
“This could be crucial in detecting changes in behaviours and pinpointing the diseased animal in the herd. Early intervention could prevent the disease spreading, so this really will be a vital tool for vets and livestock owners.”
Dr Vivi Thorup, lead animal scientist at IceRobotics, said: “IceRobotics is committed to delivering science-based information to our clients via our sensor solution. This project allows us to advance our sensor capabilities even further, empowering our clients to be at the forefront of disease detection and animal wellbeing.”
Biotangents is also developing a diagnostic test which will be portable and able to be used in the field by vets. This test will be used to evaluate samples from shortlisted animals and confirm if the disease is present.
Dr Iva Chianella, lecturer in advanced functional polymers at Cranfield University, will assist in creating the advanced diagnostic test using Biotangents’ proprietary platform diagnostics technology, Moduleic SensingTM.
She said: “The molecular diagnostic device developed at Biotangents Ltd is suitable for pen-side testing and will allow a quick and accurate identification of infectious diseases, such as brucellosis, in livestock. This avoids the long delay and difficulty of sending samples to a laboratory.”
Dr Chianella said this device can obtain an accurate diagnosis in 2 hours, allowing swift identification of sick animals and prompt intervention to prevent the spread of disease through the herd.
Brucellosis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can lead to abnormal pregnancies and abortions. It mainly affects livestock but can also be passed onto humans.
At present, there is no effective cure for the infection and affected animals must be slaughtered. Current regulations also require that all cattle that have had contact with an infected animal must be slaughtered also.
A spokesperson for this project said its aim is to detect this infection earlier and allow swift interventions to control the spread of the disease and minimise the risk of transmission to humans.