Nepal starts vaccine trial for highly contagious cattle diseaseThe lumpy skin disease has already spread to 31 districts, killing at least 463 cattle and infecting 27,816 in the last two years.
As the risk of the spread of lumpy skin disease grows in the country, authorities have started a vaccine trial on animals to check the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Officials say that a massive outbreak could happen at any time as the virus has already spread to many districts of the country since 2020.
“We have started injecting Neethling vaccine in animals,” said Barun Kumar Sharma, deputy director general at the Department of Livestock Services under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. “We will check antibody levels the animals develop after the vaccination, its effectiveness and make a decision on whether or not to approve the vaccine.”
Lumpy skin disease, also called LSD, caused by a lumpy skin disease virus, is an infectious disease that primarily affects cattle. The virus is from the family Poxviridae. The virus mainly spreads through blood-sucking vectors—ticks, mites, and mosquitoes, among others.
At least 463 cattle have died and 27,816 have been infected with the viral disease in 31 districts throughout the country since 2020. The latest cases of infection were reported some four months ago in the Sudurpaschim Province, officials at the Department of Livestock Services say.
Many states of neighbouring India are currently witnessing a massive outbreak of the deadly cattle disease.
Veterinarians say infected cattle suffer from acute fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, and soft blister-like nodules all over the body.
After infection, animals immediately start losing weight, due to difficulty in eating, which ultimately affects milk production. Pregnant cows and buffaloes could suffer miscarriage, and in some cases infected animals die.
“Animals could also be affected by secondary infections once they get infected with the lumpy skin disease,” said Dr Sital Kaji Shrestha, an animal health expert. “The disease has already spread across the country—from the eastern region to the farwest.”
As the virus is not zoonotic, the chances of humans getting infected are very slim, experts say.
Sharma, the deputy director general at the Department of Livestock Services, said that a trial of the Neethling vaccine is being carried out in animals. The vaccine is reported to be effective in controlling lumpy skin disease in several countries, officials said.
“We would like to request all farmers not to transport sick cattle, pay proper attention to biosecurity and cleanliness of the farm,” said Sharma.
Massive outbreaks of the disease are ongoing in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu.
As Uttar Pradesh adjoins Nepal, experts say there is a high risk of the disease further spreading in Nepal.
Experts say the mortality rate of the contagious disease is around 1.5 percent but the number of deaths of animals could increase due to secondary infections.
“We have also stepped up surveillance of the disease and alerted the agencies concerned about the possible outbreak of the virus,” said Dr Chandra Dhakal, senior livestock development officer at the Department.