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Explained: What Is Lumpy Skin Disease That Has Killed Over 1200 Cattle In Gujarat

State Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister Raghavji Patel said more than 1,240 cattle had died due to Lumpy Skin Disease till Saturday, and over 5.74 lakh animals have been vaccinated against it.

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Representative image of stray cattle.

More than 1,200 cattle have died of lumpy skin disease in 17out of the total 33 districts of Gujarat so far, and the state government has intensified survey, treatment as well as vaccination, while also banning animal fairs. 

The BJP government has been on the alert and Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel visited Kutch, one of the worst affected places. The affected districts include Kutch, Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Rajkot, Porbandar, Morbi, Surendranagar, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Botad, Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Banaskantha, Patan, Surat, Aravalli and Panchmahal, he said.

State Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister Raghavji Patel said more than 1,240 cattle had died due to the viral disease till Saturday, and over 5.74 lakh animals have been vaccinated against it.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has urged the central government to provide financial and necessary assistance to save cows in the state from lumpy skin disease.

More than 4,000 bovines, mostly cows, have died due to the infection which has spread to 16 districts of the state.

What is Lumpy Skin Disease?

Lumpy Skin Disease is caused by the Capripoxvirus and is “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide”. It is genetically related to the goatpox and sheeppox family, according to a report by GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.

As per the European Food Safety Authority, it is a viral disease that affects cattle. It is transmitted by blood-feeding insects, such as certain species of flies and mosquitoes, or ticks. 

It causes fever and nodules on the skin and can lead to the death of the cattle, causing severe economic losses. 

What are the symptoms of LSD in animals?

The main symptoms are general fever in animals, discharge from eyes and nose, excess salivation, soft blisters like nodules on the body, reduced milk production, difficulty in eating, which can sometimes lead to death in animals.

How can LSD be prevented?

Early detection of the virus with a rapid and widespread vaccination campaign can help in reducing the spread of the virus. According to medical experts, once an animal has recovered, they cannot be the source of the infection any further. 

Speaking to Indian Express, a medical expert said that cattle-shed must be regularly disinfected and infected cattle should be separated from the healthy stock. If the virus breaks out, then the state government must be informed. The healthy-cattle stock must be vaccinated with goat pox. 

The disposal of the dead carcass also plays an important role in containing the spread. Proper disposal of the carcasses can include incineration or burning of the bodies at high temperatures, along with disinfection of premises, according to World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

Previous outbreak of the virus

LSD has been endemic across African countries since 2012 and it has spread rapidly through the Middle East, Southeast Europe and West and Central Asia.

Since 2019, there have been several cases of LSD outbreaks in Asia with the latest being in Gujarat. The state has also reported cases in previous years.
In May, early this year, over 300 died in Pakistan's Punjab province due to LSD. 

In 2020, a strain of virus was also detected in Maharashtra. 

Can LSD spread to humans?

A report by Indian Express quotes a veterinarian that although the virus does not spread to humans, however, milk of an infected cow must be boiled and pasteurised to avoid killing the virus. 

The current situation in Gujarat

In a bid to control the viral spread, the state government has published a notification dated July 26, banning the movement of cattle and fairs, an official release said.

As per a notification issued by the Rajkot district administration, the movement of cattle from other states, districts, talukas and cities has been banned along with cattle trade and fairs, etc. till August 21.

The administration has also banned dumping of carcasses in the open, it stated.

As many as 50,328 affected cattle have been treated across 1,746 villages in the affected districts, the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress has accused the government of not revealing the exact toll of the disease and demanded compensation to farmers, who have lost their cattle.

According to a government release, a committee will be formed in each of the affected district under the chairmanship of the collectors to control and monitor the disease.

Officials of the local administration and chairpersons of the district milk producers’ cooperative unions will be part of these committees, it stated.

At least 192 veterinary officers and 568 livestock inspectors are involved in carrying out intensive survey, treatment and vaccination work in the affected districts, Patel said.

In addition to this, 298 outsourced veterinarians have been deployed for the purpose along with a mobile veterinary vehicle for every 10 villages, he said.

As many as 107 members associated with the state-run veterinary colleges have been deployed in Kutch, Jamnagar, Devbhoomi Dwarka and Banaskantha districts to carry out treatment and vaccination work on war-footing.

(with inputs from agencies)

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