A rare viral disease has struck cows in the Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram districts, debilitating dozens of them and causing worries to the farmers. Samples tested in the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) laboratory in Bhopal have confirmed the malady as lumpy skin disease (LSD), a condition that causes chronic debility, reduced milk production, poor growth, lack of appetite, infertility and abortion.
LSD was confirmed by the end of December. But the government decided to hush it up fearing panic among the farmers.
As it is a viral disease, there is no direct treatment for LSD.
Vaccines too are not available in the State against this disease.
The government is trying to get the vaccine imported. Animal Husbandry Department officials said that vaccine was expected to reach the State in a day or two.
The Animal Husbandry Department has fought the disease silently by conducting a door-to-door awareness drive among the dairy farmers of Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram districts.
610 cases in Palakkad
As many as 610 cases were reported in Palakkad alone. The disease was first reported from Kizhakkanchery and Nemmara in the district.
As many as 42 grama panchayats in Palakkad have reported this disease so far.
“But there is nothing to panic. It is now under control,” said Animal Husbandry Department’s district public relations officer (PRO) Joju Davis. He said farmers were aware of the dangers of the LSD, and they were dealing with it effectively.
Veterinarians said LSD caused by Capripoxvirus in animals was similar to chickenpox in human beings. It took about a week for the viral attack to subside. If neglected, the lumps on the cow’s body could rupture and cause debilitating wounds. If not treated, the wounds could invite maggots.
Farmers said that they were advised to clean the wounds and apply antibiotics. However, lack of appetite followed by a drastic fall in milk production has caused angst among the farmers. They said if the disease was not controlled now, it would seriously affect milk production in the State at a time when the State was cruising ahead with the agenda of self-sustenance in milk production.
LSD virus spreads through fluids or insect bites. “Preventing insect bites is very important now,” said Dr. Davis. He also said that there was no harm in drinking the milk of an affected cow.