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Lumpy skin disease hits Assam's cows amid COVID-19 crisis

Milk production is affected by the lumpy skin disease and thus, Assam's dairy farmers are facing a grave threat

Lumpy skin disease hits Assams cows amid COVID-19 crisis

Sentinel Digital Desk

Guwahati: Already hit by a drop in sales over Covid fear, milk producers in Assam are now facing the threat of a highly contagious viral skin disease among cattle that can drastically reduce milk yield.

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is an infectious viral disease of cattle and buffaloes caused by the Capripox virus of family Poxviridae. It is transmitted by arthropod vectors such as mosquitoes, biting flies and ticks.

Confirming this, Dr Prodeep Kumar Gogoi, deputy director of Animal Health Centre at Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, Khanapara, said, "We have reports of cattle being infected by the disease from three districts namely Kamrup, Cachar and Hailakandi."

The disease originated in Africa has now spread across Europe and parts of Asia. In India, it was first reported from Odisha. Since May, there has been an increase in the number of cases in India with reports coming from Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.

Dr Nagendra Nath Barman, professor, department of microbiology, College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara says that since generally the milk is boiled before we intake it, there are no concerns for any disease spread upon consuming the milk.

"We suspect the disease has spread more or less across the state. It was first more prevalent in the bordering districts of neighbouring Bangladesh like Dhubri and Cachar and then spread throughout the state," Barman added.

"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.

Symptoms are high fever followed by the development of stiff, round cutaneous nodules and fibrous tissue growth, which can be formed from 7-21 days. The symptoms are lesions in the mouth, pharynx and respiratory tract, emaciation, enlarged lymph nodes, oedema of limbs, reduction in milk production, abortion, infertility and sometimes, death.

The treatment cost varies between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000, and the skin gets affected and this is a cumulative loss. The state government on July 7 had issued an advisory regarding LSD, which the government urged be circulated widely among farmer and veterinarians.

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