New app gives farmers direct role in tackling drug resistance
A Waterford farmer has turned to technology in a bid to fight one of modern agriculture's greatest threats.
Having worked for Waterford IT for eight years on IT and agri-related projects, Sinead Quealy realised that increased animal resistance to antibiotics was a major issue on farms.
She also noticed that while at work she could use technology to deal with paperwork, the same couldn't be said for the mountain of farm paperwork she dealt with in the evenings on the Kilmacthomas farm where she lived with her husband Patrick and their daughter Jo.
In an effort to face the issue of anti-microbial resistance head on and allow farmers to manage the doses of medicines they administered to their animals more easily, Sinead set up Virtual Vet - an app and a service that farmers can use to record the medicine dosages they give to their herd.
"It's a free service. We have an android app where farmers can take a photograph of what they've given the animal and put in a note, or they can send it to us by email or text, whatever is comfortable to them. It will be recorded to their log-in account and to the animal's tag number," says Sinead.
While some people are happy to categorise anti-microbial resistance as a problem of the future, Sinead says that it's very much a "problem of the present".
"The most common complaint of people raising the issue of anti-microbial resistance is the lack of usage data available. Some governments get the data on sales of antibiotics from pharmaceutical companies or from prescriptions, but what's prescribed versus what gets in to the animal can vary.
"It's not a problem of the future. It's a cost of now. Already some antibiotics aren't working in the poultry, pig and dairy sectors. In the case of zoonotic diseases that can transfer from animals to humans, it poses a huge risk," she stresses.