Gujarat is the latest victim of the emerging viral disease outbreak in cattle, Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), which has already been reported in at least 12 other States in the country.

According to sources in the State animal husbandry department, several cattle in at least five districts have been infected with the incurable disease caused by pox virus and spreads through the blood-feeding insects.

The spread of the infection is currently reported in the districts of Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Anand and Ahmedabad.

First reported in 2019 in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj, the disease has so far spread to Karnataka, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

While there is no specific vaccine for prevention in the country, experts are advising use of goat pox vaccine as a prophylactic measure. Australia’s Victoria government says LCD morbidity varies between five and 45 per cent, though the mortality rate is below 10 per cent.

In May this year, Bihar issued an alert on LCD, which came from Bangladesh, with reports saying hundreds of cattle had died last year in five districts of the State.

Speaking to BusinessLine , Ramsinh Parmar, Chairman of Anand’s Amul Dairy (Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union), confirmed the presence of LSD infections in various parts of the district. “The initial infection was found from Khambhat taluka about three months ago. It started spreading from there to other parts of the districts. But we have pressed into action all our medical teams and vets to conduct vaccinations and take isolation measures for the infected animals,” Parmar said.

“There is not going to be any impact on the milk production,” he said.

Economic impact

The disease is feared to cause direct economic impact on the dairy farmers, who will have to spend more money on getting their animals treated with increased use of antibiotics. The LSD virus is closely related to the pox viruses of sheep and goats and causes nodular skin lesions on the animal’s body. It is characterised by chronic debility in affected animals, reduced milk production, poor growth, infertility and abortion.

NDDB advisory

The apex dairy institution, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), confirmed that the disease has affected thousands of dairy animals in most of the States. The sick animals are advised to be removed from the herd.

Meenesh Shah, Chairman, NDDB, informed that the Board has been propagating the use of traditional and Ethno-Veterinary Medicine (EVM) for management of LSD with encouraging results.

Hester Biosciences Limited is the only Indian player to have developed a LSD vaccine. It has completed the trials of the vaccine, which was originally registered as goat pox vaccine. It would require an approval to repurpose it for LSD.