District livestock offices have set up on-field veterinary teams but are suffering from lack of manpower and so have asked for government’s intervention in this regard to make the initiative a success
With plummeting milk sales in the past few months due to the Covid-19 situation, cattle farmers now fear losing their cattle to the highly contagious lumpy skin disease (LSD) virus ahead of Eid-ul-Adha.
Spreading rapidly through the northern and north-eastern districts, the virus has infected around 20,000 cows and killed over 50 till date since March, report our correspondents, based on data from the district livestock offices of Dinajpur, Nilphamari, Kurigram and Moulvibazar.
Masudur Rahman Sarker, district livestock officer in Moulvibazar, said 31 cattle have died and over 9,000 infected with the disease since March.
According to the Kurigram Livestock Officer Md Abdul Hye, the virus has infected 3,000-4,000 cows in the district with a fatality rate of 1%-2%.
Farmer Sekendar Ali, of Nilphamari Sadar, said three of his cows had been infected with LSD and apart from that, thousands of local farmers had seen similar infections. “I have failed to treat my cows and now I won’t be able to sell these cows off ahead of Eid.”
Locals in Kurigram Sadar say there are at least 500-700 infected cows in Sadar upazila alone and there could be more of which livestock officers are unaware.
Zaman Miya, from Moulvibazar’s Kamalganj, said, "My family of five and I had been able to survive during this difficult time of the novel coronavirus only by selling milk from my two milk cows. But now I'm in a dire situation as people have stopped buying milk from me after both the cows got infected with the LSD virus."
Nilphamari Livestock Officer Monakka Ali said within two to three days after numerous lumps appear under the skin of the animal, the lumps turn into open sores that show signs of discharge. The animal also develops high fever, general malaise and a strong aversion to food before dying within a few days.
Among other symptoms, the animal's throat and limb joints swell up and it fails to stand on its feet, he added.
Officials, however, say that with proper management and timely treatment, complete recovery is possible.
There is no proven treatment available for the LSD virus, but symptomatic medications such as paracetamol and antihistamine for pain, fever and swelling seem effective.
Dinajpur Livestock Officer Shahinur Alam said currently there were 3,000 infected cows in Dinajpur and 10-12 cows had died from the virus. “Of the altogether 1,600,214 heads of cattle in Dinajpur, we have successfully vaccinated and treated 80,000 cows with vaccines for goat pox.”
Moreover, to avert the viral infection from becoming an epidemic, district livestock offices have set up on-field veterinary teams but are suffering from lack of manpower and so have asked for the government’s intervention to make a success of the initiative.
What is LSD?
LSD is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), a member of the genus Capripoxvirus (CaPV) within the family Poxviridae.
The LSD virus shares the genus with the sheep pox virus (SPPV) and goat pox virus (GTPV), which are closely related, but phylogenetically distinct.
How does it spread?
The main mode of transmission of LSD between animals is blood-feeding insects such as mosquitos and flies that act as mechanical vectors to spread the disease.
In addition to vectors, transmission may occur through consumption of contaminated feed or water, direct contact, natural mating, or artificial insemination.
The first sign of LSD is lacrimation and nasal discharge. Subscapular and prefemoral lymph nodes become enlarged and are easily palpable.
High fever (>40.50C) may persist for approximately a week. Milk yields of affected cattle drop sharply and nodular skin lesions of 10-50 mm in diameter start to appear on the skin.
Control and prevention of LSD
The best protection comes from prophylactic vaccination of the entire cattle population, carried out well in advance in at-risk areas.
As LSD is a contagious disease, cattle movement inside the country and across borders should be controlled or totally banned in affected areas.
In affected villages, cattle herds should be kept separate from other herds by avoiding communal grazing.
Cattle should be treated regularly with insect repellents to minimize the risk of vector transmission of the disease.