An outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD), a viral disease causing chronic debility, reduced milk production, poor growth, lack of appetite, infertility, and abortion among cattle is a major concern among dairy farmers in Wayanad, one of the largest milk producing districts in the State.
Dairy farming was the sole income for Janaki of Idichil, a tribal farmer at Cherukara in Vellamunda in the district.
Ms. Janaki had been selling an average of 48 litres of milk a day to a milk cooperative at Vellamunda. When symptoms of the skin disease appeared on a cow on October 11, she informed the veterinary surgeon.
Though a team of veterinarians collected samples from the animal and send them to the State Institute of Animal Disease, Thiruvananthapuram, for further studies, the disease is yet to be brought under control, Ms. Janaki said.
Now, the disease has spread to six of her cows, and the sole income for the seven-member family from dairy business has stopped abruptly. “I have no idea how to feed my cattle,” Ms. Janaki said.
This is the condition of several farmers in the district who have been engaged in dairy farming after the massive destruction of cash crops like pepper, ginger, and arecanut.
LSD has been fast spreading in the district, and the disease has affected around 120 cows in 10 grama panchayats in the district so far. When the disease was first reported at Ambalavayal and Kaniyampetta grama panchayats in August, the outbreak was contained temporarily after a vaccination drive, P.R. Sudheer Kumar, District Chief Veterinary Officer, told The Hindu.
The poor availability of the vaccine is the major concern of veterinarians. “Though we had ordered for 5,000 doses of the vaccine recently, we got only 3,000 doses three days ago,” Dr. Sudheer Kumar, who is also the coordinator of the district animal disease control project, said.
As many as 2,500 doses of the vaccine were disbursed to veterinary clinics in major affected areas including Vellamunda, Thavinhal, Edavaka, Thirunelly, and Mananthavady on Tuesday itself, Dr. Sudheer Kumar said, adding that the remaining quantity would be supplied to other affected areas soon.
Farmers are advised to keep animals suffering from LSD in isolation, as the virus may by spread by flies and mosquitoes.