ANANTAPUR: The lumpy skin disease outbreak is posing a major challenge to the dairy sector in the region. Hundreds of animals died after they were infected by the virus.
The current outbreak started in Gujarat and Rajasthan around July. In recent weeks, it was reported in AP, Telangana and Karnataka. So far, 225 cows died in Narpala mandal and 180 in Putlur, 80 in Yellanur and 60 in Tadipatri area.
Lack of proper screening of animals at border check posts and uncontrolled transportation of milch animals are worsening the situation. The virus is spreading to interior areas, said Praka Science Vedika president Dr. Suresh Babu here on Friday.
He urged the police to take strict action and ban cattle transportation to the cities in AP from other states to prevent the spread of the disease. The disease has killed more than three lakh cattle in India and four thousand in AP, spreading to 18 districts so far, he said.
A vaccine is expected to be arriving on shop shelves only by 2025. As of now, preventive steps must be taken to save milch cows from contracting the virus. The LSDV shares antigenic similarities with the sheep pox virus (SPPV) and goat pox virus (GTPV), he said.
“This is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, other biting flies and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes.
According to UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions. This would contaminate common feeding and water troughs. The disease can spread either through direct contact with the vectors or through contaminated fodder and water,” he said.
Studies have also shown it can spread through animal semen during artificial insemination.
LSD affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin. The other symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions.
Studies say it has not been possible to ascertain the presence of viable and infectious LSDV virus in milk derived from the infected animal. FAO notes, however, that a large portion of the milk is processed after collection and is either pasteurized or boiled or dried in order to make milk powder.
This process ensures that the virus is inactivated or destroyed. It’s safe to consume milk from the infected cattle, the animal husbandry joint director observed. The virus has infected over 26 lakh cattle in 312 districts as of November 21. Of the nearly 4.80 lakh cattle deaths, more than 2.75 lakh, mostly cows, have been reported from Rajasthan.
India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes per annum. India also has the largest headcount of cattle and buffalo worldwide.