…𝑳𝑺𝑫 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒛𝒐𝒐𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒄, 𝒎𝒆𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒊𝒏𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒉𝒖𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒔. 𝑯𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓, 𝒊𝒇 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒖𝒎𝒆𝒅, 𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒌 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒃𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒖𝒎𝒑𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒇𝒆𝒕𝒚.
With a recent outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), which has taken a toll on the country’s cattle population, the virus has spread across 18 Dzongkhags, excluding Bumthang and Gasa, affecting a staggering 6,396 cattle, with 507 reported deaths so far.
Lumpy skin disease is a viral infection primarily affecting cattle, caused by the Lumpy Skin Disease Virus (LSDV). The disease is characterized by the appearance of nodules or lumps on the animal’s skin, accompanied by various clinical symptoms.
Transmission of the disease occurs through direct contact with infected animals and through biting insects such as mosquitoes, flies, and ticks. Indirect transmission can also occur via contaminated equipment, feed, or water.
The most common clinical sign of lumpy skin disease is the development of nodules or lumps on the skin, particularly on the head, neck, and genitalia. Additional symptoms may include fever, reduced appetite, decreased milk production, and fertility issues. In severe cases, affected animals may experience respiratory distress and neurological symptoms.
Accurate diagnosis of lumpy skin disease requires veterinary involvement and is typically based on clinical signs and laboratory testing, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or virus isolation. It is crucial to differentiate lumpy skin disease from other similar conditions.
Dr. Sangay Rinchen, Program Director of National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH) assured that lumpy skin disease does not pose a direct risk to human health. The viral disease is specific to cattle and does not affect humans.
Program Director (PD) said, “Vaccination is a proven method for controlling and preventing lumpy skin disease. Regular vaccination of cattle herds, coupled with stringent biosecurity measures, can significantly reduce the risk of disease transmission. Insect control measures, such as the use of insecticides or insect-proof housing, also play a vital role in preventing virus spread.”
“There is currently no specific treatment available for lumpy skin disease. However, supportive care, including proper nutrition, hydration, and symptomatic treatment, can aid in the recovery of affected animals. Prevention through vaccination and the implementation of biosecurity measures remain the most effective approach”, added the Program Director.
LSD is not zoonotic, meaning it cannot infect humans. However, if consumed, milk should be boiled before consumption to ensure safety.
According to Program Director, to contain the spread of the virus, veterinary authorities may impose movement restrictions during an outbreak. Presently, Dzongkhags are advised against undertaking unnecessary inter-dzongkhag animal movements, and the transportation of sick animals is restricted.
The recovery time for lumpy skin disease varies depending on the severity of infection and the individual animal’s immune response. Generally, it takes several weeks for the nodules to heal, with an overall recovery period ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months.
The Department of Livestock is taking immediate action by sourcing homologous vaccines, providing systematic treatment for the ongoing outbreak, and planning a meeting among SAARC chief veterinary officers in August to develop a joint strategy addressing transboundary animal diseases, including lumpy skin disease. Additionally, efforts are being made to manage the surge in medicine requirements and raise awareness among farmers.
In case of any signs of the disease in animals, individuals are urged to inform the nearest animal health center promptly. The community can contribute to disease control by isolating infected animals, providing proper care, following veterinary professionals’ advice in managing cattle farms and diseased animals, enhancing farm biosecurity and management practices, seeking information from reliable sources such as veterinary authorities at the gewog, dzongkhag, regional, and national levels, and refraining from sharing unauthenticated news and information about the disease.
As of now, Bhutan has a total of 45 veterinarians, with 6 extraordinary leave and 2 on study leave. Direct animal health service delivery is carried out by 23 veterinarians, while para-veterinarians handle service delivery in the gewogs.
Currently the outbreak has impacted 152 gewogs out of 205 gewogs by LSD.