LUMPY SKIN DISEASE
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- Over the last few weeks, nearly 3,000 cattle have died in Rajasthan and Gujarat due to a viral infection called the Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD).
- Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is an infectious disease in cattle caused by a virus of the family Poxviridae, also known as Neethling virus.
- LSD infects cattle and water buffalo mainly through vectors such as blood-feeding insects.
- The disease is characterized by fever, enlarged superficial lymph nodes and multiple nodules on the skin and mucous membranes. Infected animals immediately start losing weight and may have fever and lesions in the mouth, along with a reduced milk yield. Other symptoms include excessive nasal and salivary secretion. Pregnant cows and buffaloes often suffer miscarriage and, in some cases, diseased animals can die due to it as well.
- The disease has been endemic in most African countries, and since 2012 it has spread rapidly through the Middle East, Southeast Europe and West and Central Asia. Since 2019, several outbreaks of LSD have been reported in Asia.
- The virus has important economic implications since affected animals tend to have permanent damage to their skin, lowering the commercial value of their hide. Additionally, the disease often results in chronic debility, reduced milk production, poor growth, infertility, abortion, and sometimes death.
- Successful control and eradication of LSD relies on early detection…followed by a rapid and widespread vaccination campaign.
- Sanitise cattle-sheds by eliminating vectors through application of insecticides and spraying disinfectant chemicals.
- Isolate the infected cattle immediately from the healthy stock and contact the nearest veterinarian for treatment of the infected animal. This is necessary as otherwise the virus may prove fatal.
- Report the outbreak to the state government so that the rest of the healthy herd can be vaccinated using goat pox vaccine.
- Proper disposal of the carcasses can include incineration or burning of the bodies at high temperatures, along with disinfection of premises.
Impact on India
- In India, which has the world’s highest 303 million heads of cattle, the disease has spread to 15 states within just 16 months.
- In fact, in August 2019, when the first outbreak of LSD was reported from Odisha, five districts were grappling with the exotic cattle pox.
- Worse, studies suggest the virus could have already mutated in the country.
- Since LSD virus is related to sheep and goat pox, it can transmit to sheep and goats as well.
Measures being taken
- Veterinary hospitals have been directed to provide all the treatments for free. However, the challenge is no specific vaccine against LSDis available in India. Right now, the veterinarians are following the protocols they would follow in case of a pandemic.
- Dairy farmers are advised to spray disinfectants in cattle-sheds several times a day to eradicate flies and mosquitoes that act as vectors of LSD.
- In case of death of an animal, farmers have been advised to bury the carcass deep inside the earth. But more than that, they have been advised to quarantine the cattle even at the slightest symptom of the disease.
- As of now, several states have authorised the use of goat pox vaccinefor treating LSD as the virus is antigenically similar to sheep and goat pox. This will have a devastating impact on the country, where most dairy farmers are either landless or marginal landholders and milk is among the cheapest protein source.