Using AI to predict life-threatening bacterial disease in dogs

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leptospirosis in dogs
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Veterinarians and researchers in the US have discovered a technique to predict leptospirosis in dogs using artificial intelligence. 

Leptospirosis, a disease that dogs can get from drinking water contaminated with Leptospira bacteria, can cause kidney failure, liver disease and severe bleeding into the lungs. Early detection of the disease is crucial and may mean the difference between life and death.

After many months of testing various models, a team at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, developed one that has outperformed traditional testing methods and provided accurate early detection of the disease. 

The groundbreaking discovery was published in Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.

“Traditional testing for Leptospira lacks sensitivity early in the disease process,” lead author Dr Krystle Reagan said.

“Detection also can take more than two weeks because of the need to demonstrate a rise in the level of antibodies in a blood sample. Our AI model eliminates those two roadblocks to a swift and accurate diagnosis.”

The research involved historical data of patients at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital that had been tested for leptospirosis. Routinely collected blood work from these 413 dogs was used to train an AI prediction model. Over the next year, the hospital treated an additional 53 dogs with suspected leptospirosis. The model correctly identified all nine dogs that were positive for leptospirosis (100 per cent sensitivity). The model also correctly identified approximately 90 per cent of the 44 dogs that were ultimately leptospirosis negative.

The goal for the model is for it to become an online resource for veterinarians to enter patient data and receive a timely prediction.

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