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Centre pushes vaccination as lumpy skin disease ravages again

With Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Sikkim reporting fresh cases of lumpy skin disease in May, the Union Ministry of Animal Husbandry reviewed the situation, concluding that the situation was under control despite 10,000 cases in the last two weeks. Noting that there was no need to panic, it urged that vaccination be increased.

After a meeting with States, Ministry officials and scientists said that the infection was not as contagious as it was last year. “The incidences of cases are low because of the protection given by the vaccination done last year,” Animal Husbandry Commissioner Abhijit Mitra told The Hindu. In Uttarakhand, almost all the cases are new, but in Karnataka and Maharashtra, some of the cases had been reported before May.

In the meeting, the Ministry urged the States to ensure that the vaccination drive is stepped up. About nine crore cattle have been vaccinated so far, and the recovery rate is above 94%. The Centre had issued a circular in March to step up the vaccination before the monsoon. Dr. Mitra said that the vaccines protected the animals; without vaccination, the infection would have been much more contagious.

Herd immunity

Regional Animal Husbandry Director Vijay Teotia said that more than 10,000 cattle have been infected in this wave of the epidemic, which began about three weeks ago. “There are no major problems. Cases are from Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Sikkim. There are no confirmed cases from Rajasthan. Vaccination is going on all States,” Dr. Teotia said, adding that States have adequate stock of the vaccines.

He said that the gravity of the infection was lower than last year as cattle have now developed herd immunity. The States are also following Central guidelines on treatment and surveillance. “We have informed all States about the measures to be taken. A Central team has visited Maharashtra and another team will visit Uttarakhand and Karnataka soon to monitor the situation,” he added.

The Centre has also asked States to take precautions as vector diseases spread during the monsoon. Apart from vaccination, the Centre has asked the States to do fogging and disinfection drives in risky areas to avoid spreading of diseases. “Everything is under control,” Dr. Teotia added.

Mass vaccination

Uttarakhand has reported the bulk of the cases in this wave. State Animal Welfare Minister Saurabh Bahuguna told The Hindu that the State has 6,600 active cases of lumpy skin disease at the moment. Over the last 10 to 12 days, 128 animals have died from the infection. “We are trying to curtail it. Last year, we had 36,000 cases. We have vaccinated more than eight lakh cattle till now. The recovery rate is good. We have limitations as this is a hilly State. But we will manage it this time like the way we did last year,” Mr. Bahuguna said.

He said that the maximum number of cases were from the Kumaon division, adding that extra teams of doctors and officials have been deployed there. “We have put a State-wide ban on transportation of cattle. The first priority is to vaccinate as many cattle as we can. We have enough vaccines in our stock. We are trying to convince farmers to get the vaccination of their cattle and insurance done on the same day. 90% of the insurance premium is paid by the government. Vaccination and insurance campaigns are going simultaneously,” he added.

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