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Lumpy Skin Disease Is Akin To Covid Of The Cattle; 7,500 Dead, Figures Rising

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.

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19,200 Cows Dead In Rajasthan, Gujarat & Punjab Due To Lumpy Skin Disease (Image used for representational purpose only)

Chandigarh: The humans may have partially defeated Covid, but akin to the pandemic that hurt humanity for close to two years and still continues to, another disease has broken out among the bovine – Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is infecting cows and buffaloes across north India.

About 7,500 cows and buffaloes have died due to Lumpy Skin Disease in north India. Most of these deaths have been reported from Rajasthan — 5,800, followed by the state which first reported LSD for the first time this year, Gujarat, where 1,400 cows have been reported dead. From Punjab, 75 cows have died and in Uttar Pradesh, the toll is 40.

From Haryana and Uttarakhand, LSD has been reported among the bovine but there is little information about the death toll. In Uttarakhand, 400 cows have been reportedly infected by LSD. But the worst affected now is Rajasthan.

Rajasthan’s Barmer, and Jodhpur Districts Worst Affected

A total of about 1,20,700 cows have been affected in Rajasthan, out of which 5,800 cows died. According to the department of animal husbandry in Rajasthan, a total of about 94,000 cows were diagnosed with the disease and 42,000 cows have recovered. Barmer and Jodhpur are the worst affected with a total of 2,129 deaths in these two districts – 822 in Jodhpur and 1,307 in Barmer. Elsewhere in the state, from Ganganagar 840 deaths were reported, followed by 580 in Jalore, and 527 in Bikaner.

Sources said that the rural landscape of Rajasthan is full of carcasses, and the flies and mosquitoes coming in contact with the carcasses which spread the infection is a major challenge for the authorities to bring the disease under control.

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LSD Outbreak Happened In Gujarat In July 1st Week

The LSD outbreak was first reported from Gujarat in July beginning this year. Out of the 33 districts in Gujarat, it was first reported in 14 districts. By August first week, more than 37,000 cases and 1,400 deaths of cattle were reported, Kutch being the worst-affected district. Due to the disease, the Tarnetar Cattle Fair also stood cancelled scheduled to be held next month.

But the biggest concern is that milk production has taken a hit. In Gujarat alone, milk production has gone down considerably due to the outbreak of the Lumpy Skin Disease.

Punjab, UP, Haryana & Uttarakhand Too Affected

In the four lesser affected states, though, serious to take note of, 115 deaths of cattle, mainly cows have been reported – 75 cows have died in Punjab and 40 in Uttar Pradesh. There have also been reports of cows dying due to LSD in Haryana. However, there is no confirmation about the number of casualties.  In Uttarakhand, 400 cases of cattle infected by LSD have been reported.

In Punjab, 1,500 cases of LSD came to light –Fazilka reported the highest number of cases — 1,300 and 886 in Muktsar.  Karamjit Khedi from Lalton village in Ludhiana said, “A farmer from my village has lost a cow. And many other cows are in isolation. That is the only way to deal with this disease, quarantine the cow for 14 days, if it survives, one is lucky. It is slowly spreading to this part of the state.” Kiranveer Mangat, another farmer from Bhaini Sahib in Ludhiana said,” Cattle, mostly cows and buffaloes in the villages of Punjab bordering Rajasthan are affected. Most of the deaths have been reported from there.”

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In the Yamunanagar district of Haryana, a farmer reported five cow deaths in Radaur. This single incident is symbolic of what might be happening elsewhere in the state, though Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry Department, Haryana, Dr Surya Kumar said, ”Right now things are under control and the protocol and the dos and don’ts to be followed have been shared with the farmers and dairy owners.” Overall, mortality figures from Haryana are not available yet, and nor are they available from Uttarakhand.

Milk Production Badly Hit, Particularly In Gujarat

Due to tens of thousands of cattle getting infected with LSD, cows and buffaloes included, milk production has been badly hit across north India. In Gujarat, milk production has decreased by 50,000 litres per day. In Rajasthan, more than 100 dairies in Jodhpur and Barmer which used to order 700 to 800 litres of milk per day are just getting about 300 litres of milk per day. Clearly, it is due to the cows and buffaloes getting infected by LSD. Not only is the production compromised, but even consumers are also afraid to use milk, especially the young ones and school-going children.

In Punjab and Haryana, milk production may not have gone down but the fear among the consumers remains. The consumption of dairy products has not gone down but the direct consumption of milk for drinking has taken a hit.

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.

When Was It First Reported

LSD or the Lumpy Skin Disease was first reported in Zambia in 1929. Initially, it was thought to be the result of poisoning or too much sensitivity to mosquito and insect bites. In India, it was first reported in Odisha and West Bengal in 2019. In Gujarat, the first LSD case was reported in July 2022. From there it spread to the neighbouring Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.

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Transmission

Lumpy skin disease spreads between animals due to insect and mosquito bites.

Symptoms

Fever, fluid discharge from eyes, runny nose, saliva dribbling from the mouth and blisters on the body. The bovine stops eating and find chewing or eating difficult resulting in reduced milk production.

Prevention And 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.

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