Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is a viral outbreak in cattle and buffalo and spreads through biting insects (mites, ticks, flies and mosquitoes), direct contact with an infected animal, nasal discharge and sharing of infected equipment (including syringes).

Initially reported in African countries, the disease was first reported in India in 2019, in Jharkhand. Since then, several States, especially Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab, have reported the outbreak. And it is spreading fast to other States.

Morbidity could be 50-100 per cent, and mortality is usually low — up to 1 per cent. But recent outbreaks in India have shown mortality of up to 10 per cent. The incubation period is 4-12 days, while the infection lasts for around 28 days.

The younger cattle and buffalo are more severely affected. They get multiple nodules on the whole body, besides discharge from eyes and nose, high fever and lethargy, drop in milk production, loss of appetite, weight loss, possibility of abortion and intrauterine infection, and temporary or permanent sterility in bulls and cows.

The economic impact of LSD is high, comprising treatment costs, reduced milk production, and loss due to abortion, infertility and death. More particularly, it is the poor farmers who suffer these losses. There is no specific curative treatment. Post the disease, secondary infections in the skin may be treated with Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics and anti-allergic drugs.

The only solution

Vaccination is the only solution for prevention. As per recent government advisory, immunisation against LSD could be done through vaccination of cattle and buffalo with Live Goat Pox Vaccine (Uttarkashi strain).

Further, the prophylactic dose of the vaccine should be 1ml of Goat Pox vaccine whereas it could be 3ml in ring vaccination of an affected area. It should be administered by subcutaneous route.

Currently, Gujarat-based Hester Biosciences and Hyderabad-based NDDB arm, Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL) make the Goat Pox Vaccine in India. The technology has been acquired from Indian Veterinary Research Institute.

The target population for LSD vaccination is around 25 crore. Reports suggest that the Centre and States have already vaccinated six crore of them.

LSD is a new challenge facing the livestock sector. Livestock keepers will have to vaccinate their cattle and buffalo every year with either the current Goat Pox Vaccine or the new LSD vaccine which is yet to be commercialised.

The writer is CEO and MD, Hester Biosciences Ltd