How to prevent Lumpy skin disease in Cattle

Lumpy skin disease (LSD)

LSD is a disease of cattle and buffalo caused by a capripox virus. The World Organisation for Animal Health (the OIE) is encouraging members in at-risk areas to initiate vaccination campaigns ahead of virus entry and to continue timely reporting of all outbreaks.

lumpy skin
lumpy skin disease

1.How is the virus spread?

It is not fully understood how lumpy skin disease virus is transmitted between animals. It is believed that arthropod vectors, direct contact, contaminated feed and water and iatrogenic means (for example, repeated use of needles on different animals) can all spread the disease.

The virus is present in high concentrations in the skin nodules and scabs on affected animals and can be isolated from blood, saliva, ocular and nasal discharges and semen.

Lumpy skin disease virus can be found in blood for up to 21 days post-infection but shedding in semen may continue for at least 42 days post-infection.

2.What are the clinical signs of lumpy skin disease?

The incubation period is between 4 and 14 days post-infection. After an initial period of high fever (41°C) and swollen lymph glands, the animal may develop large, firm nodules that are up to 5 cm in diameter in the skin.

These can be found all over the body, but particularly on the: head, neck, udder, scrotum and perineum. The nodules may become necrotic and ulcerate, leading to an increased risk of flystrike.

Black cow with lumpy skin around its neck.A young brown cow with lumps over its body. Dairy cattle in peak production are often the most severely affected with a marked decrease in milk production. Depression, anorexia, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and excess salivation may also be observed.

In severely affected animals, necrotic lesions can also develop in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. The disease can be subclinical (up to 50% of cases in an outbreak) or may be very severe or even fatal. Morbidity varies between 5 to 45% and mortality rate usually remains below 10% but both rates can be considerably higher when an outbreak occurs in a naïve cattle population.

3.What diseases of cattle could look like lumpy skin disease?

- Ringworm and infection with other dermatophytes
- Dermatophilus infection
- Cutaneous leucosis
- Parapox (bovine popular stomatitis)
- Bovine herpes mammilitis
- Pseudo lumpy skin disease (bovine herpesvirus 2)
- Photosensitisation
- Insect bites
- Urticaria
- Demodectic mange
- Trauma, including burns

4.How is lumpy skin disease controlled?
Management of lumpy skin disease relies on vaccination, control of animal movements and culling infected animals.

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