Lumpy skin disease has claimed the lives of an estimated 67,000 cattle since July this year in India. The viral infection that affects cows and buffaloes has upended the livelihoods of thousands of families directly or indirectly associated with the farm sector. In Jammu and Kashmir context, over 38900 animals have been affected with it and around 100 of them have died.
In view of the emerging situation, the government has imposed complete ban on import of bovine animals from neighboring states as well as inter-district movement of bovines within Jammu and Kashmir for any purpose, till October 25.
The order has been issued in view of spread of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in J&K and some states of the country as a measure of “abundant precaution” and in view of declaration of whole J&K as “Controlled Area” for Lumpy Skin Disease vide S.0 424 on September 5 and in exercise of powers conferred under Section 10 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases Act, 2009. A review will be taken on the basis of the evolving situation, the order added.
The step though belated is in right earnest. According to experts, numerous factors have combined to create a perfect storm — a new variant of the virus, the effects of climate change, factors increasing vectors like mosquitoes that spread the infection, and certain dairy farming practices that leave cattle more vulnerable.
The disease spreads through blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes or ticks. It can also spread through flies that sit on the eye and nasal discharge of infected animals. While the government has banned the movement, a mass awareness about separating animals, feeding the apart and other necessary information must reach the farmers than the speed with which it is reaching them. When healthy and infected animals eat and stay together, it is difficult to contain the spread of disease.
There is need for maximizing vaccination so that further spread of the disease is prevented. There is also a need for strict adherence to proper protocols of treatment as per the recommendations by the government of India. The concerned officers should implement all the guidelines of Government of India in letter and spirit to contain the disease. Awareness should also encompass measures regarding healthy diet as the deficiency in nutrients impairs the immune system of the cattle, making them more prone to diseases.