A Parliamentary Standing Committee has raised concerns about the accuracy of information regarding cattle deaths due to Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD).
GS II: Health
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is the lumpy skin disease?
- How does it spread?
- What is the geographical distribution and how did it spread to India?
- What are the economic implications?
What is the lumpy skin disease?
- Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which belongs to the genus capripoxvirus, a part of the poxviridae family (smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family).
- The LSDV shares antigenic similarities with the sheeppox virus (SPPV) and the goatpox virus (GTPV) or is similar in the immune response to those viruses.
- It is not a zoonotic virus, meaning the disease cannot spread to humans.
How does it spread?
- It is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes.
- According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions which may contaminate common feeding and water troughs.
- Thus, the disease can either spread through direct contact with the vectors or through contaminated fodder and water. Studies have also shown that 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, which is where it derives its name from.
- The cutaneous nodules, 2–5 cm in diameter, appear on the infected cattle’s head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia, and perineum.
- The nodules may later turn into ulcers and eventually develop scabs over the skin.
- The other symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions.
- The incubation period or the time between infection and symptoms is about 28 days according to the FAO, and 4 to 14 days according to some other estimates.
- The morbidity of the disease varies between two to 45% and mortality or rate of date is less than 10%, however, the reported mortality of the current outbreak in India is up to 15%, particularly in cases being reported in the western part (Rajasthan) of the country.
What is the geographical distribution and how did it spread to India?
- The disease was first observed in Zambia in 1929, subsequently spreading to most African countries extensively, followed by West Asia, Southeastern Europe, and Central Asia, and more recently spreading to South Asia and China in 2019.
- As per the FAO, the LSD disease is currently endemic in several countries across Africa, parts of the West Asia (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic), and Turkey.
- The spread in South Asia first affected Bangladesh in July 2019 and then reached India in August that year, with initial cases being detected in Odisha and West Bengal.
Is it safe to consume the milk of affected cattle?
- Studies say that it has not been possible to ascertain the presence of viable and infectious LSDV virus in milk derived from the infected animal.
- However, that a large portion of the milk in Asia is processed after collection and is either pasteurised or boiled or dried in order to make milk powder.
- This process ensures that the virus is inactivated or destroyed.
What are the economic implications?
- The spread of the disease can lead to “substantial” and “severe” economic losses.
- The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration.
- The income losses can also be due to poor growth, reduced draught power capacity and reproductive problems associated with abortions, infertility and lack of semen for artificial insemination.
- Movement and trade bans after infection also put an economic strain on the whole value chain.
- A risk assessment study conducted by the FAO based on information available from 2019 to October 2020 revealed that the economic impact of LSD for South, East and Southeast Asian countries “was estimated to be up to $1.45 billion in direct losses of livestock and production”.
- The current outbreak in India has emerged as a challenge for the dairy sector.
- India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes annually.
- India also has the largest headcount of cattle and buffalo worldwide.
- In Rajasthan, which is witnessing the worst impact of LSD , it has led to reduced milk production, which lessened by about three to six lakh litres a day.
- Reports indicate that milk production has also gone down in Punjab owing to the spread of the disease.
- According to FAO, the disease threatens the livelihoods of smaller poultry farmers significantly.
- Notably, farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have incurred losses due to cattle deaths and are seeking compensation from their State governments.
-Source: The Hindu