Known as Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), the viral infection has left farmers with financial losses, courtesy of dead cattle, and has also taken a toll on milk output.
While the Centre has announced plans to launch a mass vaccination drive to inoculate cattle against the virus, the initiative is yet to be realised and the current non-availability of vaccines has left many farmers high and dry.
In light of the spread of LSD, we take a look at its origins, symptoms, and treatment.
What is lumpy skin disease?
According to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), LSD is caused by a virus called the Capripoxvirus that is transmitted by mosquitoes and other insects that feed on blood.
While LSD has long been endemic in most African countries, it has spread rapidly through southwest Europe, the Middle-East, and west and central Asia since 2012. Asia, in particular, has reported several outbreaks of LSD since 2019, according to a report by The Indian Express.
Infected cattle or bovine creatures exhibit visible symptoms and, as the name suggests, develop thick nodules on the skin, which are often accompanied by debilitating fever and lower milk production, especially among bovines.
The disease is also fatal. According to the World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH), a fatality of one to five per cent is usual in cases of LSD.
Prevention and treatment:
According to WOAH, successful control and eradication of the disease requires “early detection…followed by a rapid and widespread vaccination campaign.”
Experts have also suggested sanitising cattle sheds and the use of insecticides to eliminate vectors of the disease.
Isolation of infected cattle from the rest of the herd is also recommended to restrict the spread of the disease.
Can lumpy skin disease affect humans?
Unlike the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, the Capripoxvirus responsible for causing LSD is not zoonotic, meaning it does not jump from animals to humans.
That being said, scientists are still concerned about the possibility.
“Due to its recent spread in unnatural hosts, there are growing concerns about its zoonotic implication, although confirmatory evidences of human infection are lacking,” said the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in a statement.