Epidemiology and Infection

A low cost decision support tool for the diagnosis of endemic bovine infectious diseases in the mixed crop–livestock production system of sub-Saharan Africa

M. C. EISLER a1c1, J. W. MAGONA a1a2, N. N. JONSSON a1 and C. W. REVIE a3
a1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Glasgow, UK
a2 Livestock Health Research Institute, Tororo, Uganda
a3 Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

Article author query
eisler mc   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
magona jw   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
jonsson nn   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
revie cw   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Diagnosis and treatment of endemic infectious disease is crucial for productivity of cattle in rural sub-Saharan Africa, but shortages of trained veterinary professionals necessitate support for less well-trained cadres of animal health worker. A Delphi survey of veterinary experts provided quantitative information on key clinical signs associated with eight endemic bovine diseases, then heuristics and dendrogram analysis identified a reduced sign set to be incorporated in a diagnostic decision support tool implemented as a simple colour-banded card. One hundred and seventy disease-sign questionnaire returns were obtained from 32 veterinary research scientists and 14 veterinary practitioners. Preliminary validation of the decision support tool for 16 prototypical cases resulted in ‘correct’ diagnosis over 90% of the time. The card potentially serves as a training aid and aide-mémoire, and could improve the diagnostic competence of animal healthcare providers.

(Accepted April 10 2006)
(Published Online June 2 2006)

c1 Centre for Infectious Diseases, University of Edinburgh EH25 9RG, UK. (Email: mark.eisler@ed.ac.uk)