Lumpy skin disease (LSD) hits Assam

Guwahati: Impending crisis looms over farmers as lumpy skin disease (LSD) has crept into many districts in Assam affecting cattle. LSD affects milk production which is major blow in a year where floods and COVID19 have destroyed livelihoods especially of those involved in the agriculture sector.

The disease is characterised by mild fever for 2-3 days followed by development of stiff, round cutaneous nodules on the skin all over the body. Symptoms may include lesions in mouth, pharynx and respiratory tract, reduction in milk production and infertility.

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“The dairy industry is facing its worst crisis in Assam. The prices of dairy products have dropped. We spend around Rs 5,000 on a lactating cow to ensure optimum production. With this new virus affecting the production, we won’t even be able to recover our expenses,” said Niraj Parikh, a cattle herder from Guwahati

However, the milk produced from an infected cow can be used for consumption as the virus cannot get transmitted to a human.

“As generally the milk is boiled before we intake it, there are no concerns for any disease spread upon consuming the milk,” said Dr Nagen Barman, professor of microbiology at College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara. However, the producers and herders have an uphill task ahead of them to serve the supply chain.

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“It’s an exotic disease only declared in India in 2019, so we are yet to conduct proper tests on the virus in Assam. However, we have been testing doses of goat pox vaccine and studying its effect on this cattle virus. Also the goat pox vaccine costs around Rs 10 to Rs 15 a dose which makes it affordable for farmers to acquire,” addEd Dr Barman

“We have to look at prevention of diseases rather than jumping towards a cure, we have to set up facilities to prevent the spread of LSD to other parts of the state,” said Dr Miftahul Islam Barbaruah, a veterinarian and a trained development facilitator.

“As the virus gets transmitted through mosquitoes, biting flies and ticks we have to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in cow sheds. Another way can be installation of large mosquito nets covering the shed to keep the cattle away from contracting the virus,” he added while speaking on prevention methods to limit to spread of the virus.

“Many cases go unreported so it becomes difficult to trace the spread of the virus. Every district is equipped with medicines for treatment of infected cattle,” said Dr Prodeep Kumar Gogoi, deputy director of Animal Health Centre at Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, Khanapara.

“However many owners of cattle do not approach our department so many times we are unable to help,” he further added.

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