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Swine Flu Early Detection Developed in Israel

An Israeli start-up has developed a system to detect swine flu and other animal diseases before they spread. The whole world is asking about it.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/1/2009, 9:25 AM

Israel News Photo

An Israeli start-up has developed a system to detect swine flu and other animal diseases before they spread. Inquiries from around the world are flooding the Tel Aviv offices of CartaSense and its distributor in the wake of the Mexican swine flu disease.

The “Bull Connect” wireless communications system was developed by the three-year old company for herds of cattle and sheep, but it is equally useful for herds of pigs and other animals, according to CartaSense vice president of sales Sharon Soustiel.

The system is to be displayed next week at the annual international AgroTech exhibition in Tel Aviv, where the CartaSense innovation is likely to be the center of attention. A similar system called Bee Connect has been developed for bee farmers.

The system involves placing an electronic tag on to each animal in a herd which then provides real-time physiological readings of the pig's health, including heartbeat, blood pressure and temperature. The information is sent to the mobile phone and computer of the herd manager, and a warning signal flashes if there are any discrepancies from pre-programmed data.

Sousteil told Israel National News that the tag includes information of the general location of an animal, allowing a herd manger to pinpoint where a plague has broken out -- a critical need when dealing with herds of hundreds of thousands of animals that are spread out in a radius of several miles.

Mexico has been the country hardest hit with the disease, and Soustiel related that his wife’s family, who lives in Mexico City, was the last one to vacate their apartment building. They have fled temporarily to Miami.

Israeli authorities have taken strict precautions to prevent an outbreak of the virus, ordering two classes in the second and third grades in Ra’anana to stay home Friday after one girl who recently returned from Mexico felt ill.

At Ben Gurion International Airport, all passengers who have visited Mexico recently must pass through an on-site clinic and are being told to stay home until a report is issued on the results of their examination. Twenty-six passengers were examined Thursday night.

Mexican authorities reported that the epidemic has stabilized, but one death has been reported in the United States.