In the time when the world is already in the midst of fighting a pandemic, a new swine influenza virus with “pandemic potential” is seeping its way to threaten the world with its possible outbreak. According to a study published in the US science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a new strain of influenza is spreading across the pig population in China. It’s potential to infect humans and trigger another pandemic has raised concerns worldwide. Robert Webster, an influenza investigator who recently retired from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, says it’s a “guessing game” as to whether this strain will mutate to readily transmit between humans, which it has not done yet. “We just do not know a pandemic is going to occur until the damn thing occurs,” Webster says, noting that China has the largest pig population in the world. “Will this one do it? God knows.”
The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, is a reassortment of three lineages: one similar to strains found in European and Asian birds, the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, and a North American H1N1 that has genes from avian, human, and pig influenza viruses. As per the research paper, it can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways. We currently do not know if humans have immunity towards this virus. The G4 variant is especially concerning because its core is an avian influenza virus to which humans have no immunity. It is one of the top diseases which experts are monitoring closely.
A Toronto based mobile app development company proposes a series of technologies that come together and solve the problem, like the new swine influenza virus, by not giving such a situation enough room to breed and become in-destructive. Identifying the viruses in its first phase and treating it right away makes a huge difference in saving millions of lives. The CEO of TPG suffered two losses in his close circle to coronavirus within a short span of time. Processing a loss is never easy. As he knows the world is fighting against the coronavirus, he also knows that the world is not ready to fight back another such situation if there happens to be an outbreak that turns into a pandemic. Therefore, he comes up with an approach that will help prevent any such situation to occur.
IoT Enabled Farms
IoT technology uses smart devices that are automated and controlled without human intervention. They are known to be efficient in gathering and reporting steam of data at once. These smart devices ensure that data is up to date bringing forth any new finding to immediate attention. Pigs are prone to carry some of the deadliest influenza viruses which have affected human populations in the past. Researchers model pigs to study human influenza because of similarities in their cardio- and cerebrovascular systems, blood parameters, and vessel size. Signs of swine flu in pigs can include fever, depression, coughing (barking), discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation, and going off feed.
Every farm in the region will be IoT enabled with data acquisition systems installed. These smart devices are attached to one pig in every batch of 20 throughout the farms. These devices are installed with photo radars that can detect body temperatures of the pig carrying the device and the pigs surrounding it. Sensors installed in it can record body temperatures for possible fever and keep track of how much food they let themselves feed. Because oftentimes when pigs are sick they go off feed and their behavior changes which could be a common sign of them getting ill. Eventually, raising concerns about what caused them to go sick.
Mobile/Website App Technology
The Wi-Fi-enabled IoT device sends the collected information to a central database periodically where data is collected. Likewise, the information from all the farms in the region is collected. Farmers will have access to this database using the mobile app technology to ensure the smooth running of operations on the farm. The mobile app helps them to monitor any abnormalities in the operations of farming and to ensure the living of pigs are safe and sound. There will be immediate steps taken to ensure that the pig with the symptoms does not spread to fellow pigs or the whole farm. Appropriate measures can be taken like keeping the whole batch under the quarantine period and allowing researchers to further investigate the matter. This will ensure no harm to other pigs, hence, preventing an outbreak of an influenza virus which often leads to loss of animal lives.
Another access to the database is given to researchers and government authorities via website app where they can further investigate the infection spreading across the population. This ensures if there’s any upcoming possible threat that needs immediate attention. This gives them the chance to make necessary nationwide arrangements well in advance. The app will make use of data analytical tools to show the data such as body temperature using heat maps. Heat maps are graphical representations of data that utilize color-coded systems. It highlights the density zones and gives a direct overview of the situation. It helps assist viewers to direct towards the areas of data that matter the most. In our case, the areas with a higher density of flu symptoms will be coded red. Researchers and government authorities can make use of these technologies to identify where the problem lies by a quick glance to color-coded visuals instead of reading and comparing numeric values. Thus, giving them the chance to work faster towards the identification of cause and it’s severity towards human life.
Watch out for Outliers!
To ensure that everything works smoothly and in a timely fashion, we need to make sure that we also address the challenges that may come forth. This will ensure no outliers in our data. There could be a possibility of the devices being tapered off in time or damaged. Or, the body temperature reading varies because the outside conditions are not maintained properly. It is, therefore, important to have periodic inspections to ensure devices are attached and working as needed. This avoids any bad data entering our database, hence, ensuring the data reads to be accurate.
What do we want to achieve?
Saving the world from a pandemic hit
Pandemics can cause significant, widespread increases in morbidity and mortality and have disproportionately higher mortality impacts on lower-middle-income countries. It can cause economic damage through multiple channels, including short-term fiscal shocks and longer-term negative shocks to economic growth leading to significant social and economic disruption. The proposed solution alerts the concerned departments as soon as there’s an identification of any such possible threat making it incapable to distort the nation.
Identify the superspreader
The solution proposed has the ability to track back the line of infected herds and identify the superspreader. This helps identify the Ro value of the virus under consideration marking the severity and rate by which the virus is spreading.
Value animal life
We want to bring value to animal life. Oftentimes in the process of saving humans lives from deadly virus spread, we trade our fear of spreading with slaughtering them on a large scale. We witnessed so many animals being killed and buried with these viruses in the past and no one cares to take an initiative towards it. Measures are taken towards saving animal life by preventing this stage to occur.
There’s a much lower likelihood of mortality when the disease is managed in the first phase itself. It prevents many nationwide problems from happening when there’s a warning system in place to alert us with such unpredicted occurrences. The proposed technologies catch the new strain of viruses as soon as the first symptom appears which gives the researchers an early edge to start measuring its severity. It also gives the government to set up warning signals in time and stock up necessary equipment and work on the policies in case there’s an outbreak. It contributes strongly towards building a fightback mechanism before letting it damage the nation. Even a little progress towards an early identification creates a big impact on saving millions of lives. It will save millions from getting bankrupt, going down with mental stress, but above all losing a life forever.
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