Several Indian states grapple with lumpy skin disease

Farmers seek govt's help, while experts call for urgent preventive measures as infection kills thousands of cattle


Anadolu Agency August 19, 2022
India last week launched an indigenous vaccine to protect livestock from lumpy skin disease. PHOTO: AA/FILE

NEW DELHI:

As a number of Indian states are reeling under the lumpy skin disease outbreak with thousands of cattle dead, experts called for more measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

The viral lumpy skin disease, according to experts, is transmitted by blood-feeding insects, like flies and mosquitoes, or ticks. The disease causes fever, and nodules on the skin.

The disease was first discovered in 1929 in Africa. Though it is contained in Africa, over the years, it has made entry into new territories, including Asia in 2019.

A number of states have so far reported cases of the disease, with the western Rajasthan province severely impacted.

Rajasthan state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot earlier this week said that lumpy skin disease among cattle has spread in about 15 districts of the state.

According to official statistics, over 420,000 cattle have been infected, and 18,462 animals have died in the past few weeks.

Dr Falguni. S. Thakar, director of Animal Husbandry in neighbouring Gujarat state, told Anadolu Agency that the state has witnessed over 3,500 cattle deaths due to the disease since April.

“Our cattle population is 9.6 million. The situation is not worrying and it is under control now,” she said, adding that four million cattle have already been vaccinated.

Of the total 91,000 cattle infected, 65,000 have already recovered, she added.

"Most of the cases have been reported from the Kutch area, which is the epicentre," said Thakar.

In the Punjab state, officials said over 74,000 animals have been infected, and hundreds have died.

Stringent efforts

Swaran Singh Randhawa, director of clinics at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary And Animal Sciences University in northern India, told Anadolu Agency though a surge was witnessed in the cases, the number of infections has decreased now.

India is home to 192 million cattle, as per the 2019 livestock survey.

“The situation is better now as the number of cases is coming down,” he said, adding that vaccination should have been done much earlier.

Randhawa noted that while the vaccination is a preventive measure, the focus should be more on biosecurity. "The cattle owners should remain vigilant about it. If they find a symptom, they should take precautions immediately to stop it from spreading by isolating the animal," he said.

He also suggested that more cattle should be vaccinated.

India last week launched an indigenous vaccine to protect livestock from lumpy skin disease.

Indian animal pathology expert, Dr. Nem Singh, a retired senior official at Indian Veterinary Research Institute, said infection in several states is a concern, calling for stringent measures.

"Other than preventive measures, the government should focus on awareness among the people. If people remain aware of the disease, they can isolate the infected cattle immediately which would prevent the disease from spreading," he said.

Impact on farming sector

Daljeet Singh, president of north India-based Progressive Dairy Farmers Association with over 30,000 members, told Anadolu Agency that the impact of the disease looks more severe than stated by the government.

“In our state, we are getting reports from the ground that there are deaths happening,” he said, adding that the disease had a huge impact on the farming sector as well.

He feared the prices of milk would go up if the disease continued.

The government should announce a relief package for the affected farmers, Singh demanded.

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