The lumpy skin disease that is affecting the cattle has spread to 15 states across the country, according to government data. The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said that the disease has affected over 20 lakh animals till September 23. The first case of infection was reported in April in Gujarat’s Kutch region. Over 75,000 cattle have died since July. The worst affected state is Rajasthan, where 14 lakh cattle deaths have been reported, according to official data.
What is the current situation?
The 15 states and Union territories where cases of lumpy skin disease have been reported are: Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Bihar.
The Uttar Pradesh government has banned cattle trade with four neighbouring states and also imposed a “lockdown” on the intrastate movement of animals from 28 districts to prevent the spread of lumpy skin disease.
Animal Husbandry Minister Dharampal Singh said on Friday that 26,197 cows were infected with the disease in the state out of which 16,872 have been treated.
Across India, 16 million cattle have been vaccinated against the infection.
What is the lumpy skin disease?
The disease is caused by capripox virus and does not affect people. It spreads among cattle through flies, mosquitoes, lice and wasps causing nodules to form on the skin.
Symptoms include high fever, reduced milk production, skin nodules, loss of appetite, increased nasal discharge and watery eyes.
Is it safe to consume milk?
The spread of the virus has causes concerns around consumption of milk. However, a senior official of Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) said that lumpy is a non-zoonotic infection and not transmissible from animals to humans.
“It is safe to consume milk from the infected cattle. There is no problem in the quality of milk even if you have it after boiling or without boiling,” IVRI Joint Director Ashok Kumar Mohanty told news agency PTI earlier this month.
The disease and its impact on milk output can be arrested if cattle are vaccinated on time. If cattle are infected for the first time and not vaccinated, then milk production can get reduced up to 40-50 per cent, he added.
Cases of lumpy skin disease were first reported in India in September 2020, just before the current surge, when a strain of the virus was found in Maharashtra.