Published on: November 14, 2022

Lumpy skin disease

Lumpy skin disease

Why in news? 

(LSD) claiming the lives cattle in Karnataka, a startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) has stepped in to create awareness and stop the spread of the disease.

What is the lumpy skin disease and how does it spread?

  • It is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), belonging to the genus capripoxvirus(smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family).
  • Shares antigenic similarities with the sheeppox virus (SPPV) and the goatpox virus (GTPV) or is similar in the immune response to those viruses.
  • It is not a zoonotic virus, meaning the disease cannot spread to humans.
  • First observed in Zambia in 1929, subsequently spreading to most African countries extensively, followed by West Asia, Southeastern Europe, and Central Asia, and more recently spreading to South Asia and China in 2019.

What are its symptoms ?

  • LSD affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin, which is where it derives its name from.
  • It is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes.
  • Symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions

How will disease spread?

  • It is through direct contact with the vectors or through contaminated fodder and water.
  • It can spread through animal semen during artificial insemination.

What is the geographical distribution and how did it spread to India?

  • The spread in South Asia first affected Bangladesh and then reached India in with initial cases being detected in Odisha and West Bengal.
  • The FAO points out: “The long porous borders between India, Nepal and Bangladesh allow for a significant amount of bilateral and informal animal trade, including cattle and buffaloes.”

Is it safe to consume the milk of affected cattle?

  • it is safe to consume milk from cattle infected by Lumpy Skin Disease, as it is a non-zoonotic disease.
  • Large portion of the milk in Asia is processed after collection and is either pasteurised or boiled or dried in order to make milk powder. This process ensures that the virus is inactivated or destroyed

What are the economic implications?

India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes annually. India also has the largest headcount of cattle and buffalo worldwide

  • The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration.
  • The income losses can also be due to poor growth, reduced draught power capacity and reproductive problems associated with abortions, infertility and lack of semen for artificial insemination.
  • Movement and trade bans after infection also put an economic strain on the whole value chain.
  • A risk assessment study conducted by the FAO based economic impact of LSD for South, East and Southeast Asian countries “was estimated to be up to $45 billion in direct losses of livestock and production”.
  • Farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have incurred losses due to cattle deaths and are seeking compensation from their state governments.

What are the  measures taken by government?

  • Spread-control measures : vaccination of susceptible populations with more than 80% coverage, and also movement control of bovine animals
  • Other measures includes quarantining, implementing biosecurity through vector control by sanitising sheds and spraying insecticides, strengthening active and passive surveillance
  • Spreading awareness on risk mitigation among all stakeholders involved, and creating large protection and surveillance zones and vaccination zones are also necessary
  • The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying informed that the ‘Goat Pox Vaccine’ is “very effective” against disease
  • The affected States have put movement bans in place and are isolating infected cattle and buffaloes, spraying insecticides to kill vectors like mosquitoes, with some affected States such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh also setting up dedicated control rooms and helpline numbers to guide farmers whose cattle have been infected.
  • With two of the institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have developed an indigenous vaccine for LSD, that will  roll out in further date .