The highly infectious Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) variant having devastating impact on cattle in the country originated from neighbouring India, said a senior official here Monday.
“We have conducted tests on the origin of LSD variant found in animals in the country and it is emerged that it is the same variant that has earlier spread in India on large scale. There are three possibilities of its transmission from India, he said and adding, that the virulent pathogen could have traveled through air, being its vector, tick or insects from eastern neigbour could trespassed into this side of border and have infected herds of cows, possibly in Sindh province,” said Dr Abdul Rehman, DG Research, Livestock & Dairy Department, Punjab.
As a standard scientific practice, he continued to say, it was confirmed after genetic profiling of prevailing LSD in the Punjab province at our labs set up according to internationally accepted benchmarks.
Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat having borders with Pakistan’s Punjab and Sindh provinces reported 4,500 deaths of cows, according to latest reports. According to a report by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), the LSD virus is an emerging threat to livestock worldwide. It is genetically related to the goatpox and sheeppox virus family. LSD is primarily found to be transmitted in cattle and water buffalo by blood-feeding insects. However, according to local officials, in Pakistan this disease has been affected cows. Its clinical signs include the appearance of nodes on the animal’s hide with symptoms of high fever.
Apart from mortality of cows, Lumpy Skin Disease has highly adverse impact on the productivity of animals. The production of milk as well as quality and quantity of meat from affected animals have been grossly affected in the wake of the viral disease. As animals suffer from high fever, they do not eat and resultantly, they start losing weight with every passing day. Severely ill animals even cannot stand.
Consequently, the LSD is ravaging the lives of cattle farmers in terms of huge financial loss. Although provincial Livestock and Dairy Development recorded 20,129 LSD cases in Punjab as per data collected by first week of August 2022, but figures of affected animals could be high. It is feared that hundreds of thousands of dairy farmers are bearing the economic fallout of the LSD spread in the province.
To deal with menace of LSD outbreak, provincial Livestock Department is executing a three-pronged strategy including reporting of as much and quickly animals as possible, running mass vaccination drive and spray farms to restrict population of vector responsible of disease. At in-house facility, the department is producing the LSD vaccine at nominal cost as well at labs working in line with the set procedures. Hence, said DG, Livestock Extension, we are able to produce vaccine abundantly in no time. It enabled the department to execute a robust vaccination drive, which assume pivotal role in effectively guarding against the outbreak of the disease.
Under the ongoing drive, the department has so far administered over 2.32 million vaccine doses to the animals. The present immunization coverage stands at about 14 percent of total cows’ population of the province, he maintained.
Dr Abdul Rehman, who is also spokesperson of the department, said that reporting each and every infected animal has been one of the main pillars of our campaign against the challenge of LSD. This very important task is being executed through online dashboard, identifying the hotspots of infected animals and taking preventive steps accordingly on real-time basis. Such drastic measures are the need of the hour, in order to save the livestock that contribute significantly to agriculture sector.
Since the first animal tested positive in March this year, out of 20,129 clinically proven cases in the province, according to verified official data available electronically, 205 deaths from the disease have been reported as yet.
Source : The News PK August 9 2022 by Munawar Hasan