Lumpy Skin Disease | UPSC

Lumpy Skin Disease | UPSC


Lumpy skin disease: The deadly pandemic that has taken root among India’s bovines

      WHY IN NEWS:

This will have a devastating impact on the country, where most dairy farmers are either landless or marginal landholders and milk is among the cheapest protein source



Local veterinarians have identified it as lumpy skin disease (LSD), a viral illness that causes prolonged morbidity in cattle and buffaloes in Kerala.


  • All of a sudden, in the first week of January, lumps started appearing on their body accompanied by high fever.
  • Within a week, they have become emaciated, says Joseph, adding that he loses Rs 700 a day because of reduced milk yield.
  • Even infected bulls and buffaloes are unable to pull carts or perform farm activities.
  • It appears as nodules of two to five centimetre diameter all over the body, particularly around the head, neck, limbs, udder and genitals.
  • The lumps gradually open up like large and deep wounds. In some cases — under 10 per cent according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — the infected animal succumbs to the disease.


  • Lumpy skin disease virus causes a severe disease in cattle characterised by nodules in the skin.
  • Transmission of LSD occurs via insect vectors and vaccination is the most effective means of control.

The disease causes substantial losses in affected herds with significant economic consequences.

  • It also blocks access of affected countries to lucrative export markets, compounding the financial impact of a LSD outbreak.


Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is caused by infection of cattle or water buffalo with the poxvirus Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV).

  • The virus is one of three closely related species within the genus capripoxvirus, the other two species being Sheeppox virus and Goatpox virus.


LSD was first described in Zambia in 1929

  • Over the next 85 years it steadily spread throughout the majority of Africa and into the Middle East.
  • In 2015 the virus entered mainland Europe in Greece, and the Caucasus and Russia.
  • In 2016 the virus spread further east into the Balkans, north towards Moscow, and west into Kazakhstan.
  • It is currently considered a rapidly emerging disease of high consequence.
  • It is notifiable with outbreaks causing significant damage to productivity and trade.

Lumpy Skin Disease | UPSC



  • There is still a good deal of information lacking about the transmission of LSD.
  • Experimental work has shown that direct transmission from an infected to a naïve animal is very inefficient.

Evidence to date supports transmission of the virus via arthropods such as insects or ticks (these are termed virus “vectors”)

Outbreaks of LSD occur during warm, wet weather while the disease usually diminishes in the cooler winter months.

  • In addition, LSD epidemics are often characterised by new outbreaks occurring at distances over 50km from the nearest known disease focus.
  • These characteristics strongly suggest insect-borne transmission, such as mosquitoes and ticks.
  • However, it is unclear which vector species are involved in transmission of LSD.
  • Movement of infected cattle can also be a significant factor in the spread of LSD over large distances.


Lumpy Skin Disease | UPSC

  • Other clinical signs include general malaise, ocular and nasal discharge, fever, and sudden decrease in milk production.
  • Morbidity and mortality in the recent Eurasian epidemic has been approximately 10% and 1% respectively.
  • The severity of disease in the 10% of affected cattle in the herd can vary from mild to fatal.

Some cattle develop very small numbers of nodules which can be difficult to spot.

  • Others develop innumerable nodules up to 3cm in diameter.
  • The factors determining which cattle develop mild and which develop severe disease are unknown.
  • Disease can be confirmed with a laboratory diagnosis, with tests available to detect the DNA of the virus or antibodies.


Control and prevention of lumpy skin disease relies on four tactics –

  • Movement control (quarantine)
  • Vaccination
  • Slaughter campaigns
  • Management strategies.

Vaccination is the most effective means of control, and live homologous vaccines containing a Neethling-like strain of LSDV are recommended 


  • There is no treatment for the virus, so prevention by vaccination is the most effective means of control.
  • Secondary infections in the skin may be treated with Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) and also antibiotics (topical +/- injectable) when appropriate.
  • Summary

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • In India, which has the world’s highest 303 million heads of cattle, the disease has spread to 15 states within just 16 months.
  • In fact, in August 2019, when the first outbreak of LSD was reported from Odisha, five districts were grappling with the exotic cattle pox.
  • Worse, studies suggest the virus could have already mutated in the country.
  • Since LSD virus is related to sheep and goat pox, we need to understand whether it can transmit to sheep and goats as well.
     SOURCES:  DownToEarth  | Lumpy Skin Disease | UPSC 



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