Lumpy skin disease back again: Cases reported in Sikkim

Subhasish Mitra (Wide Angle)

Reports of detection of the contagious lumpy skin disease (LSD) among cattle in three districts of Sikkim should not be seen in isolation.

Samples from Soreng, Pakyong and Namchi districts sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD) in Bhopal turned out to be positive.

The cases were reported in the media causing panic that prompted the authorities in the distant northeastern state to take prompt preventive measures.

LSD, which killed about one lakh cattle in a dozen states of the country in May and June last year, is back this year not only in Sikkim, but in few other states as well.

Researchers say that this disease escalates in the months of May and June, thereby implying that it could spread rapidly in the coming days if effective steps were not taken to curb it.

At present, the maximum effect of LSD is in Uttarakhand. Thousands of cases of the infection are also being reported in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Last year, the government had not taken any concrete measure to curb this disease, despite the death about one lakh cows across the country and about 15 lakh cows getting the infection.

The best way to prevent the spread of this disease is vaccination of cattle.

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Animal Husbandry and Dairying Minister Parshottam Rupala had released the ICAR-developed Lumpy Provac Ind Vaccine for LSD on August 10, 2022.

This vaccine is still not available for vaccination due to lack of regulatory approval, though four private sector companies have adopted the technology for its production.

ICAR scientist says that if the permission to produce Lumpy Provac Ind Vaccine was given on time and its vaccination was done in animals, then the possibility of curbing this disease spreading again after a year would have decreased.

So far, the government has allowed only the Goat Pox Vaccine to prevent Lumpy Skin Disease. Through this, vaccination of animals was also done in the country.

But, Goat Pox Vaccine is not fully effective against LSD. It was used in a situation when no LSD vaccine was available. The efficacy of Goat Pox vaccine is 60 to 70 per cent.

In Maharashtra vaccination of all cattle was done last year, yet the cattle there were affected by disease and thousands of animals died due to this disease.

Farmers across the country apprehend huge economic losses in the form of animals deaths due to LSD infection among animals.

Due to the recurrence of LSD, the dairy industry, which is already facing a decline in milk procurement, is facing a fresh bout of trouble, report agriculture journals.

LSD severely affects milk production capacity of animals. The lean season of milk production (when production decreases) has already started from April. Therefore, the spread of Lumpy Skin Disease is bound to create difficulties for the consumers as well in the event of low supply of milk.

A drop in milk production could lead to increase in the prices of milk.

Lumpy Skin Disease spreads in animals through insects. After sucking the blood of a sick animal, a mosquito or fly sits on another animal and infects it. An animal infected with the disease produces less milk and eventually stops giving milk when it becomes more ill. The animal also dies due to this disease.

Lumpy Skin Disease was first reported in India in Odisha in 2019. The disease was first detected in the world in Africa in 1929, but in 2000 it had spread to several countries including Gulf countries, Israel, European countries, Russia, Balkan countries, Bangladesh and Nepal.

There is no cure for LSD and the only prevention is vaccination. Scientists say that about 200 million vaccines are needed in the country. That is why vaccination should be expedited.

The government has so far only allowed Goat Pox Vaccine to be administered to animals to prevent Lumpy Skin Disease.



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