Lumpy skin disease led to stagnation in milk production

Context: Central Government is foreseeing a “stagnation” in milk production and a possible scarcity of ghee and butter as an impact of the lumpy skin disease (LSD) that took the lives of about 1.89 lakh cattle recently.

Major Highlights

  • Normally, milk production in India is growing at 6% per year. This year, it is either stagnant or has grown at 1% or 2%. The demand for milk, however, has grown by 8% to 10%, which has led to “price inflation” in milk and its products. 
  • Besides LSD, another reason for the “price inflation” is the increase in the prices of fodder and its scarcity.
    • The fodder cultivation area is around 4% for the past five decades. However, the Indian dairy sector is growing at a rate of 6%. 

Lumpy Skin disease

  • Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which belongs to the genus capripoxvirus, a part of the poxviridae family (smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family).
  • It is a contagious disease that usually affects host animals like cows and buffaloes. 
  • The disease can either spread through:
    • direct contact with the vectors (like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks)
    • contaminated fodder and water (infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions which may contaminate common feeding and water troughs)
    • animal semen during artificial insemination.
  •  It is not a zoonotic virus i.e., the disease cannot spread to humans.
  • Symptoms: LSD affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin, which is where it derives its name from.
    • The cutaneous nodules, 2–5 cm in diameter, appear on the infected cattle’s head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia, and perineum. The nodules may later turn into ulcers and eventually develop scabs over the skin. 
    • Other symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions. 
  • The morbidity of the disease varies between two to 45% and mortality or rate of death is less than 10%.
  • It is safe to consume milk from cattle infected by Lumpy Skin Disease, as it is a non-zoonotic disease.

Spread

  • LSD disease is currently endemic in several countries across Africa, parts of West Asia (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic), and Turkey. 
  • The disease reached India in August 2019, with initial cases being detected in Odisha and West Bengal. 

Implications

  • The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration, abortion in pregnant animals and sterility in bulls. 
  • It threatens the livelihoods of smaller farmers significantly which incur losses due to cattle deaths. 

Key Facts

  • India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes annually. India also has the largest headcount of cattle and buffalo worldwide.

Practise Question: 

Q. With reference to “lumpy skin disease”, consider the following statements:

1. It is a bacterial skin disease transmitted by vectors affecting cattle and buffaloes only.

2. It spreads by blood-feeding insects including mosquitoes, flies, and lice.

3. It infects humans through the consumption of milk or meat.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c)  2 only

(d) 2 and 3 only

Answer: (c) 

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