Chandigarh: Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is turning into an epidemic in the north Indian states with 800 deaths of cows reported in a single day from various districts of Punjab on Friday. With this, the total number of deaths due to LSD in the three most affected states has reached about 19,200.
The total number of infected cows in these three states is close to five lakh, the highest number of cases have been reported from Rajasthan — 3.10 lakh cows infected in that state. In Gujarat, 84,000 cases of LSD have been reported and in Punjab, the number of infected cattle is 60,000.
Among the 19,200 dead cows, the highest number has been reported from Rajasthan followed by Gujarat and Punjab. In Rajasthan alone, 14,000 cattle, mostly cows, have died. Most cases in Rajasthan have been reported from Sri Ganganagar, with 2,752 deaths, followed by Barmer where 1,657 deaths have been reported, and from Jodhpur 1,691 deaths.
In neighbouring Gujarat, over 3,150 cattle, mostly cows, have died even as the virus spread to 125 new villages on Friday. In Punjab, 2,100 deaths of cows have been reported due to LSD, 800 on Friday itself, while the total number of infected cattle is close to 60,000.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has sought 3.33 lakh additional vaccines from the Centre. What is worrisome in Punjab is that each successive day it is assuming alarming proportions. On August 9, 178 cows died due to LSD in the state, a day later 270 cows died due to the infection while on August 11 as many as 385 cows died. On August 12, close to 800 cows died taking the overall death toll to 2,100 in the entire state.
As a result of the outbreak, milk production has been hit by at least 20 per cent in the state. Already, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has formed a committee headed by finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema, panchayat minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Animal Husbandry Minister Laljit Singh Bhullar, two secretary-level officers, and a director to oversee the arrangements to ensure that the infected cattle are treated in time and the spread of disease is curbed at the earliest.
Also, a high alert in the four districts — Tarn Taran, Muktsar, Fazilka, and Bathinda has been declared, and bordering areas adjoining Rajasthan have been sealed vis-à-vis movement of cattle.
The LSD was first reported from Gujarat in July beginning this year. By August first week, more than 37,000 cases and 1,400 deaths of cattle were reported and slowly the disease spread to Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
What Is Lumpy Skin Disease
LSD is caused by infection of cattle or water buffalo with the poxvirus Lumpy Skin Disease Virus (LSDV). According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the mortality rate is below 10 per cent. The disease spreads between animals due to insect and mosquito bites.
Prevention & Treatment
To prevent the disease from happening, vaccination against LSD is important which is part of the livestock Health and Disease Control Programme of India. However, no specific antiviral drugs are available to treat lumpy skin disease. The only treatment includes treatment of skin lesions using wound care sprays, etc, and the use of antibiotics to prevent secondary skin infections and pneumonia. Anti-inflammatory painkillers can be used.