With the dreaded viral infection Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) claiming over 1,500 cattle lives in Gujarat in the past 3-4 months, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Tuesday visited Kutch, the worst-hit district, to assess the treatment and vaccination efforts by the administration.
Of the 54,000 reported cases in the State, Kutch district accounts for about 38,000 so far.
Patel visited the isolation and vaccination centrers in Kutch even as the infection spread to 20 of the 33 districts, affecting most of the milk-producing regions.
As per government data on August 1, 2,083 villages across 20 districts have reported the outbreak caused by the pox virus, which is believed to be spread by mosquitoes, bees and other insects.
About 10 lakh healthy animals have been inoculated so far.
A goat-pox vaccine, developed by Ahmedabad-based Hester Biosciences Limited, has been repurposed with dosage changes .
Additional forces on ground
The Gujarat government has deployed additional human resources to manage the outbreak. Gujarat agriculture and animal husbandry minister Raghavji Patel said that infected animals were being treated. “Cattle breeders need not worry about the current outbreak as the government is keeping a close watch on the spread of the infection and taking immediate necessary steps to contain the outbreak. There is adequate vaccines available with the state,” he said in a statement.
The government has deployed teams from veterinary colleges, including postgraduate students and professors, in the affected districts of Kutch, Jamnagar, Devbhumi, Dwarka, and Banaskantha.
About 192 veterinary officials and 568 cattle observers are on ground, while an additional 298 outsourced veterinary officials have been deployed through mobile cattle hospitals — one each for a cluster of 10 villages — for survey, treatment and vaccination.
Impact on milk output
In Kutch, the Chief Minister appealed to milk producers and cattle breeders to vaccinate their healthy animals and isolate those showing signs of infection.
A tollfree helpline set up by the government has received over 15,000 calls related to LSD in the past week.
On July 26, the State government issued a notification restricting cattle movement in 14 affected districts, which it termed as restricted zones.
While there is no word on the LSD outbreak’s impact on milk production, dairyunions in Saurashtra have reported 2-3 per cent reduction in daily milk collection.