September 28, 2022

How India's Gujarat and Rajasthan states fight lumpy skin disease 


Lumpy skin disease (LSD) has swept through the Indian states of Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan in northwest India and claimed the lives of thousands of cattle.

Amul Dairy, a dairy state government cooperative society based in Anand district, Gujarat, recorded 1,507 LSD cases since April 1.

This disease, which has very low mortality, is not new to India. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization, LSD entered the eastern states of India from Bangladesh in 2019 and slowly spread to other states.

Last year, there was a 0.25% dip in milk production in Anand due to the adverse impact of the disease. Vaccination and good hygiene standards have helped keep LSD at bay. In Anand and neighbouring villages, cattle were fully vaccinated as dairy farmers worked with Amul Dairy's veterinary team. 

As LSD is a vector-borne viral disease, farmers need to bathe their cattle regularly to prevent tick infestations. The disease is known to cause fever and nodules on the skin and can potentially cause death, especially in animals that have not previously been exposed to LSD. Additionally, pregnant cows and buffaloes often suffer miscarriages.

Measures against LSD entail having all cattle in Anand stall-fed; thus these animals are not sent out to graze. Amul Dairy has also assigned secretaries in every village to report any new cases of diseased cows.

Furthermore, artificial insemination technicians are to watch for LSD symptoms and report new cases. A successful intervention can lead to the cure of the disease within 10 to 12 days.

Meanwhile, in Rajasthan, the state's chief minister revealed that LSD has hit cattle in about 15 districts. So far, 4,24,188 animals have been infected by the disease, of which 18,462 animals have died.

To prevent LSD, orders have been given to all district collectors in Rajasthan to acquire medicines without the need to issue tenders. Guidelines are established and concern the proper disposal of the carcasses of bovines that have died from the disease. The state government is also running a campaign to raise awareness of LSD.

In the context of Rajasthan, goat pox vaccines are used for mass vaccination. Later, the state government launched the indigenous vaccine, Lumpi-ProVac, to protect livestock against LSD. This vaccine was developed by the National Equine Research Centre in collaboration with the Indian Veterinary Research Institute.

- Dr. Dinesh Bhosale

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