Mistakes you are likely to make when you diagnose your animals online

Dr. Nderitu Nyaga, Department of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery Egerton University.

With the advent of technology and unprecedented communication media, there has been an influx of virtual farmers and those who seek services from professionals virtually.

This has been hailed as a great stride by many because it allows access to information at the click of a button.

However, it has come with its own share of disadvantages some of which are catastrophic. In respect to animal health, it is not uncommon for farmers to call their vet for consultation and then end up making a diagnosis and treatment.

There are those that will rely on online material and the now rechristened ‘DR’ Google to make diagnoses of diseases and conditions affecting their animals, and go further to institute treatment.

In this article we emphasise the need to have a competent professional on call. Hardly a week ends before I receive a call from a farmer telling me that his or her birds are sick, and they will quickly explain how the birds appear with some humorous descriptions.

Unknown to many farmers many livestock diseases have very close resemblances to one another. Indeed, some diseases will only be differentiated by minute details such as the absence or presence of a fever (high temperature).

In describing cases, farmers will many times miss out on what we call pathognomonic signs (that point to a specific disease or condition). This ends up misleading the person on the other end and, therefore, a wrong diagnosis is made followed by wrong treatment and this many times leads to death and loss of production.

Farmers should always endeavour to have their sick animals checked and treated by a competent animal health practitioner.

I have heard of a farmer who inadvertently poisoned all her birds after administering a concoction she prepared, thanks to an online recipe.

Here in lies the next point of address.

The internet is a super avenue for farmers to get information pertaining to all facets of animal production, including health. Farmers can improve their production by reading and watching relevant pieces from the internet.

However, when it comes to diseases and treatments, extra care must be taken.

Firstly, it must be understood that not all the materials posted on the internet are factually correct. There is a lot of misleading information. The risk of trying out things simply because they are written is phenomenal.

Secondly, simply because something has worked in other parts of the world does not necessarily mean it will work for you. There are geographical, environmental and aetiological perspectives to diseases.

You will find the same disease caused by different organisms that respond differently to different medication.

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