The lumpy skin disease
#GS-03 Agriculture, Science and Technology
About Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD):
- LSD is caused by the poxvirus Lumpy Skin Disease Virus (LSDV) which can infect cattle or water buffalo.
- The LSDV shares antigenic similarities with the sheeppox virus (SPPV) and the goatpox virus (GTPV).
- It is not a zoonotic virus, hence the disease cannot spread to humans.
- The disease targets the lymph nodes of the infected animal causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin.
- Lumpy skin disease is primarily spread between animals by biting insects (vectors), such as mosquitoes and biting flies.
- The disease can also spread when infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions which may contaminate common feeding and water troughs.
- Lumpy skin disease was first discovered in Zambia in 1929.
- It was first reported in Asia Pacific region in 2019 in the countries of China, Bangladesh, and India.
- No treatment has yet been developed for the disease hence prevention by vaccination is the most effective means of control.
- Vaccination against these diseases is covered under the Livestock Health and Disease Control Programme of India.
- Successful control and eradication of LSD relies on “early detection followed by a rapid and widespread vaccination campaign”
The cost of LSD:
- According to FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) the spread of LSD can lead to “severe” economic losses.
- The disease can lead to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and loses appetite due to mouth ulceration.
- There will also be income losses 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 FAO study based on information available from 2019 to October 2020 revealed that the economic impact of LSD for South, East and Southeast Asian countries “was estimated to be up to $1.45 billion in direct losses of livestock and production”.
- The current outbreak in India has emerged as a challenge for the dairy sector. India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes annually.
- In Rajasthan, which worst impacted state, outbreaks of LSD has led to reduced milk production by about three to six lakh litres a day.
- Of the nearly 75,000 cattle that the disease has killed, more than 50,000 deaths, mostly cows, have been reported from Rajasthan.
What can be done
The FAO has suggested a set of spread-control measures for LSD, such as;
- vaccination of susceptible populations with more than 80% coverage,
- movement control of bovine animals and 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.
The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has told that the ‘Goat Pox Vaccine’ is “very effective” against LSD and is being used across affected States to contain the spread.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have developed an indigenous vaccine for LSD, which will be available commercially in the next three to four months.