Predicting which Elephants Have Tuberculosis

When elephants have tuberculosis (TB), they often don’t show the symptoms for it. In fact, the disease can remain dormant in an elephant for years before it’s detected. It also spreads from elephant to elephant, and since these animals are very social and zoos frequently trade them, the spread of TB is hard to control. It’s very expensive to test and treat elephants for TB, so it can be hard for zookeepers to track its spread.

Now a new machine learning model is tracking the disease better than any prior method. While a six percent increase in accuracy through this model may seem like only a small step forward, it can still save cash-strapped zoos a lot of money in testing and treatment. This machine learning tool draws from 20 years of elephant TB data, improving the odds of predicting which elephants are more likely to have the disease.

Photo by Andrew Rice on Unsplash