LSD is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which is a member of the poxviridae family and the capripoxvirus genus. Other members of the genus capripoxvirus include the sheeppox virus and the goatpox virus.
The LSDV mostly affects cattle, including the cow, its offspring, and Asian water buffaloes. According to a 2021 study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), LSD epidemics occur many years apart. According to the paper, neither the presence of a distinct viral reservoir nor how and where the virus persists between epidemics is known.
Originally, LSD has been restricted to Africa and portions of West Asia, where it was first discovered in 1929. In recent years, however, the illness has expanded to regions outside of its endemic range.
The LSDV is transmitted by vectors such as ticks and mites, as well as houseflies, mosquitoes, etc. Additionally, it spreads through polluted water, fodder, and feed. Mosquito and housefly infestations remain at their peak during the monsoon.
In an effort to control the spread of the virus, scientists have recommended isolating infected animals from healthy animals.
LSDV infects an animal's circulatory system, causing vasculitis or inflammation of blood vessels and lesions in numerous organs such as the liver, lungs, spleen, lymph nodes, etc.
In turn, this generates epidermis, which separates the outside surface of the skin from dermis — the inner layer of skin. This results in the development of lumps or nodules on an animal's body. Other symptoms include fever, increased mucus output, lack of appetite, etc.
The postmortem examination of eight corpses in Kutch and Banaskantha revealed that the virus was responsible for necrotic vasculitis or the death of live tissues in local locations, as well as fibrosis in different organs in infected cattle. Such a circumstance results in organ failure and ultimately death.
In addition, these nodules may rupture owing to external pressure or friction, since the skin covering them is very thin. Such open wounds expose animals to secondary bacterial and protozoal infections and magot growth, which may be lethal. Additionally, animals may develop bronchopneumonia, which impairs their respiratory function. Experts explain that the animal slips into a vicious cycle as it loses stamina owing to apatite loss and edoema (swelling produced by the accumulation of excess fluid in bodily tissues) in the brisket, causing the condition to progress.
This will have a detrimental impact on the country since the majority of dairy farmers are either landless or marginal landholders and milk is one of the least expensive sources of protein as well as their means of sustenance.
Due to the contagious nature of LSD and its effects on the economy — reduced milk supply, miscarriages and infertility, and damaged hides as a result of cutaneous nodules and fibrous tissue formation — the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) classifies it as a disease that must be notified. This implies that a government must notify OIE of the disease epidemic so that it may be controlled.
As per the Article 246(3) of the Constitution of India in List II of Seventh Schedule the Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases; veterinary training and practice is under State list on which the State has exclusive power to make laws for such State or any part thereof with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List II in the Seventh Schedule.
Further, as per the Article 48 of the Constitution of India State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
As several Indian states bear the brunt of lumpy skin disease, it is essential that both central and state governments cooperate, coordinate, and consolidate their efforts. Synergised efforts will certainly be fruitful.