How to spot and treat lumpy skin disease in your herd

In a chief baraza recently, a vet said our village was facing a risk of Lumpy Skin Disease due to movement of livestock and the fact that a neighbouring sub-county had reported the disease. He advised us to vacci-nate our cattle and avoid buying cattle from the said sub-county until the disease is fully contained. I am ready to vaccinate my cattle and I hope my neighbours will do the same. How affordable is the vaccine and apart from this, is there any other way to prevent or control this disease?

Also what are the clinical signs of this disease?

Kamau, Murang’a

Dear Kamau, thanks for the que-stion and for reading my coloumn everyday. Lumpy skin Disease (LSD) is a preventable fatal viral disease of cattle. Sadly, this disease continues to affect cattle and causes a lot of economic losses which could be easily averted through an affordable, available and effective vaccine. The presence of LSD results in restrictions in local and international trade in livestock and livestock products. The regular occurence of the dis-ease may sometimes be attribu-ted to farmers’ ignorance on availability of a vaccine that can accord a herd immunity aganaist disease. Lumpy Skin Disease is common in warm humid conditions. It can be spread by biting insects and contact betw-een infected and healthy cattle.

Clinical Signs

The disease affects cattle of all ages. It is mainly transmitted through direct contact, arthropod vectors and through use of injection needles across animals health professionals.

Animal infected with LSD will develop round raised swellings under the skin. The swellings are painful when pressed; they later slough-off and leave open wounds. These swellings will also occur internally in the respiratory, genital tract and the digestive system. The swellings will also occur inside the mouth and in the nose. The affected animal will produce a lot of tears, nasal discharges, and saliva. Later the lymph nodes will also swell. The LSD swellings may also appear in the udder and legs. The characteristic round raised swellings mostly occur around the neck and head areas; sometimes the swellings can cover the whole body or appear on the udder, around the anal opening and around the genital area.

The swellings may develop into open wounds which can act as points of secondary infects. The lesions in the mouth will affect feeding and subsequently milk production in lactating animals. Starvation and dehydration can result in deaths. In bulls when the swellings occur around the genitalia it affets their mating abilities.

Where the respiratory system is affected, pneumoniacis a likely sequel. Pregnant cattle may abort or calves maybe born with extensive skin lesions.

The disease results in loss of body condition and damage to hides and skins in addition to reduced milk production making it an economically important disease. In outbreaks, the disease can kill up to 40 per cent of the herd.

Prevention and control

Vaccination is the most effective prevention method. There is an effective and affordable vaccine manufactured by the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) which gives an annual immunity aganaist disease. The vaccine is packed in doses of 50, 100 and 150 doses; excluding the veterinary costs, a dose will cost around Sh70 only.

In LSD prevention is the only option as there is no treatment available. When infections are reported in a certain area, veteri-nary authorities will issue a qua-rantine becausr it is a notifiable disease. Quarantine is imposed to limit animal movement and hence the spread of the disease. A ring vaccination around the infected area follows the quarantine to contain and prevent the spread of the disease.

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