Protecting Bovine Wealth
India, on August 10, launched the indigenous vaccine Lumpi-provac to protect livestock from Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD). The homologous live-attenuated LSD vaccine has been developed by the National Equine Research Centre, Hisar (Haryana) in collaboration with the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izzatnagar, Bareilly. Ever since the disease came to India in 2019, research institutes have been engaged in developing the vaccine. The scientists accepted this as a challenge and undertaking limited trials in a short period, have developed a vaccine that's 100 per cent effective, complying with all standards, which will be effective in getting rid of the Lumpy disease. The protocol for the commercialisation of vaccine is being expedited by the government so that the vaccine can be made available to cattle farmers as quickly as possible.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Foreign Agricultural
Services (FAS) August 12 report, the outbreak of LSD is spreading to the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. Indian media sources report that cattle deaths from LSD number already around 2,111 in Rajasthan and 1,679 in Gujarat, and now 672 in Punjab, 38 in Himachal Pradesh, and 22 in the Yamunanagar district of Haryana. Since the beginning of August, over 25,000 cases were reported in Rajasthan alone and more than 37,000 cases in Gujarat. The outbreak is rapidly becoming a cause of concern for dairy farmers, who fear incurring huge financial losses as productive cattle die off. Amid a sudden increase in cases of LSD to cattle, Rajasthan on August 29 urged the Centre to declare LSD as a ‘national calamity’.
Considering the seriousness of the issue, Parshottam Rupala, the Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying held a review meeting on August 16 with representatives from Haryana and Punjab government and concluded that ring vaccination should be done first in the districts where there are animals suffering from LSD so that the spread of this disease can be stopped in other districts. Responding to the demand for sufficient supply of vaccines, Union Minister has indicated that the department has been in touch with the vaccine manufacturers to enhance the production to meet the requirements of the two states.
Hester Biosciences, the first company in India to manufacture the goat pox vaccine and Indian Immunologicals that launched Goat Pox Vaccine in 2021 are supplying the vaccine to curtail the further spread of LSD. The affected states have been advised to follow the guidelines issued by the central government to prevent further spread of the disease through bio security, regulating movement of animals and ring vaccination. Impacted states have been recuring to the use of goat pox vaccines to control the spread of disease.
However, Prof (Dr) N B Shridhar, Professor and Head Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology Veterinary College, Shivamogga noted that there are no good treatment or vaccines to combat LSD. The only treatment available is good and supportive care of cattle. However, many veterinary doctors suggest the use of sprays to cure skin lesions and the use of antibiotics to prevent secondary skin infections and pneumonia. Antiinflammatory painkillers can be used to keep up the appetite of affected animals.
However, reacting to a question on whether LSD be controlled, in an interview last year, Dr Pip Beard, Pirbright’s resident World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Disease Expert for LSD, said, “The reality is that LSD is an extremely difficult disease to eliminate once it is established in a region. Vaccination is absolutely key to controlling disease outbreaks, and there are very safe and effective LSD vaccines commercially available. High vaccination rates in cattle populations across large areas are required for disease control. For example, the regional vaccination programme undertaken by southeast Europe was effective in controlling LSD. A similar co-ordinated and comprehensive vaccination programme involving multiple countries may be required in Asia."
Describing ‘Lumpi-provac’ as a milestone for eradicating the LSD, Narendra Singh Tomar, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, said that livestock, along with human resource, is the biggest asset of our country, towards which we have a huge responsibility to preserve and prosper.