Several states, including Gujarat and Rajasthan, have been battling the outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), a viral infection of cattle.
The Lumpy Skin Disease Virus
- LSD is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which is a virus of the capripoxvirus genus in the poxviridae family. Sheeppox virus and goatpox virus are the other members of the genus capripoxvirus.
- The LSDV mainly affects cattle — cow and its progeny, and the Asian water buffaloes.
- According to a 2021 report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, LSD outbreaks occur in epidemics several years apart.
- As per the report, the existence of a specific reservoir for the virus is not known, nor is it known as to how and where the virus survives between epidemics.
Prevalence of Lumpy Skin Disease
- According to the FAO report, LSD was long restricted to sub-Saharan Africa.
- However, over the past decade, it spread to the Middle East and Turkey. From 2015 onward, it has impacted the Balkan (southeast Europe) countries, Caucus (eastern Europe) and Russia.
- LSD entered India, Bangladesh and China in July 2019. Since then, outbreaks of the disease have been reported from 20 Indian states – Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
How it spreads
- The LSDV spreads through blood-sucking vectors like ticks and mites like houseflies, mosquitoes, etc. It also spreads through contaminated water, fodder and feed.
- Mosquito and housefly infestations remain at their peak during the monsoon, and veterinary scientists and government officers blame a very wet July for the rapid spread of the infection in Gujarat this year.
- Scientists have been advising isolation of infected animals from the healthy ones in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. However, there is a problem of feral cattle in Gujarat the state where cow slaughter is prohibited and scientists say these free-ranging cattle could also be a reason for rapid spread of LSD.
- LSDV attacks the circulatory system of an animal and causes vasculitis or inflammation of blood vessels and lesions in various organs like liver, lungs, spleen, lymph nodes etc.
- In turn, it causes epidermis, making the outer surface of the skin to get separated from dermis – the inner layer of the skin.
- This, in turn, leads to formation of lumps or nodules on an animal’s body.
How does it lead to death
- The virus had caused necrotic vasculitis or death of living tissues in local areas and fibrosis in various organs of infected cattle. Such a situation leads to failure of various organs, and eventually death.
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