With no vaccine available in India, treatment of these animals puts financial burden on farmers.
The viral lumpy skin disease (LSD) has spread to cattle and buffalo in about a dozen big Indian states triggering concerns among thousands of dairy farmers.
The disease — caused by the pox virus — affects cattle and buffalo and is believed to be spreading through blood feeding insects. Originated from Africa, LSD is declared as an endemic in most African and Middle Eastern countries and in India, besides some other Asian nations.
The disease, currently, has no treatment. Hence, prevention by vaccination is the only effective means to control the spread.
The dairy body, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), however, sees no significant impact on milk production at present, but the spreading infection would result in higher costs and use of antibiotics for farmers.
LSD is characterised by chronic debility in the affected animals, reduced milk production, poor growth, infertility and abortion. “It is a disease that could cause significant losses to the dairy farmer. The disease has already been reported in many parts of the country. It was first reported from Mayurbhanj, Odisha in August 2019,” said Dilip Rath, Chairman, NDDB, responding to Businessline’s queries.
Apart from Odisha, the disease has been reported from Karnataka, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
In Karnataka, the disease surfaced largely in north-eastern districts such as Kalaburgi and Bidar, among others. “Lumpy skin disease is in controlled condition in Kalyana Karnataka. Frequent health checks are being conducted in all the affected areas. Controlling and eradication of the disease are our prime concerns,” said Prabhu B Chavan, Minister for Animal Husbandry in Karnataka.
In Amul’s homeland, Gujarat, officials at the State animal husbandry department declined any reported infections of LSD till date. It is still not clear how many animals have been infected so far in the country.
“The farmers will also have to spend more money on getting their animals treated which will also increase the use of antibiotics. As of now, a limited number of animals are affected and loss related to milk production is insignificant,” Rath stated.
NDDB has already started spreading awareness on managing the disease in affected animals using traditional and ayurvedic veterinary medicine preparations, which are cost-effective, efficacious and can easily be prepared and administered by the farmer locally.
Currently, there is no specific vaccine available for the disease in India, said NDDB.