New Delhi: The lumpy skin disease is estimated to have killed nearly 100,000 cows and buffaloes in eight states since it first struck in April, as more cattle continue to fall prey despite a massive vaccination drive, officials said.
Nearly 68,000 animals have perished according to numbers reported by states, an official from the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy said, requesting anonymity. However, reports from states suggest the figure could be higher.
After being detected in Odisha in 2019, the disease was mainly confined to eastern parts of the country, an official of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said. It spread rapidly this year to almost all states with spikes in June, July and August.
The outbreak continues to cause financial losses to dairy farmers, especially small cultivators who depend on milch cattle to supplement incomes. The infection, caused by the capripoxvirus, is spread by blood-feeding insects.
Union animal husbandry secretary Jatindra Nath Swain has written to states to step up inoculation with the goat pox vaccine, which has high efficacy against the disease. Swain told states the country had enough stocks of the vaccine. Over 10 million doses of the goat pox vaccine had been administered so far, the official cited in the first instance said.
Two state-run research organisations — the National Equine Research Centre and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute – have jointly developed the Lumpy-ProVax Ind, an indigenous vaccine against the disease, the government had announced last month. Lumpy-ProVax Ind will take at least another four months to go into commercial production.
“The loss of a cow or buffalo means losing ₹40,000-60,000. Cattle fairs have been banned. Movement of cattle from one zone to other has also been banned,” said Surinder Singh, an official from Rajasthan’s department of animal husbandry.
Rajasthan has seen one of the largest outbreaks. Singh said nearly 300-400 cattle were dying every day. He estimated that about 100,000 cattle may have perished by now across the country.
The disease has gripped cattle in states such as Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Delhi, among others. Cases have been reported from Andaman & Nicobar too.