Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

EPIZOO: Software for Veterinary Epidemiology Training and Problem-Solving

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

EPIZOO: Software for Veterinary Epidemiology Training and Problem-Solving

Article excerpt


Veterinary epidemiology (epizootiology), which deals with animal population health and disease processes, analyses, and respective actions, uses different methods that have to be applicable under a great variety of conditions. Processing and analysing large amounts of data are demanding, but one way to facilitate this work is by the use of computers. The time thus saved can be used by veterinarians to carry out, for example, field investigations and disease control measures.

The following computer programs for human epidemiology, produced by or in cooperation with WHO, are also suitable for veterinary epidemiological purposes: EPI-INF05, EPIMAP, EPIMODEL, EPISTAT, and EPICOST. Examples of specific veterinary epidemiology software are EPISCOPE, CHAPTERS, EXOTICA, and PANACEA. Several other veterinary computer programs are available but these deal usually only with particular aspects of veterinary epidemiology, without aiming at follow-up actions.

There is a need for a more complex software package that reflects the enormous diversity of veterinary epidemiological problems and their solution, and this was the reason for developing the EPIZOO software package, which is described in this article.

Materials and methods

The main criteria used in developing EPIZOO were as follows:

- it should be a wide-ranging computer program

for undergraduate and postgraduate education,

self-training, and problem-solving for decisionmaking

purposes; - it should employ only methods that have already

proved useful and practical in animal population

health/disease analyses and in successful programmes

of disease prevention, control, and

eradication; - it should be applicable to any animal species for

general health and morbidity purposes, for any

specific health and disease, including those transmissible

to man, and for infectious as well as

noninfectious diseases; - the methods selected should be general so that

they can be applicable anywhere and at any time; - it should be user-friendly and easy to operate

(even by computer novices); - it should provide feedback to the user in case of

input errors and permit their correction; - the input should be based on answering the

questions and the output should be obtained immediately

in the form of text, tables, and graphs; - it should be easy to print the input data and the

results directly from the screen; - it should take up only one 1.4-Mbyte diskette

without requiring compression; - it should be possible to operate also directly from

the diskette drive, i.e., it should not require installation

on the hard disk.

These relatively demanding criteria preclude a large program, limit the size of subprogram data inputs, and rule out a methodological description (references are made to a bibliographical list at the beginning of the program). Therefore, for processing large amounts of data or of data that require the use of more sophisticated methods, storage, or spreadsheets, alternative software packages should be employed.

The program is written in Turbo Basic (Borland International, Inc.) and the graphs are based on ASCII symbols. EPIZOO can be run directly from either the diskette drive or the hard disk of IBM-compatible personal computers that use the MS-DOS operating system (version 4 or higher).

EPIZOO is simple to use. After keying in "EPIZOO" and scrolling past initial information, instruction notes, and a bibliographical list, the user has access from the main menu and various submenus to various subprograms. The program automatically poses questions about the data to be processed and the various options presented are chosen by the user. Results in the form of text, tables, and graphs are obtained immediately. The screen contents can be printed using the "Print screen" key. …

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