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EFSA’s lumpy skin disease recommendation shows promise

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reports vaccines are working against lumpy skin disease but says the ailment has not been eliminated. According to EFSA, outbreaks of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in the Balkan region fell dramatically by 95 percent from 7,483 in 2016 to 385 in 2017.

The figures confirm that vaccination of cattle – recommended by EFSA in 2016 – is the most effective way to contain the disease, according to the report.

Lumpy skin disease is an infectious, eruptive, occasionally fatal disease of cattle characterized by nodules on the skin and other parts of the body. Secondary bacterial infection often aggravates the condition. It is a reportable disease in the United States, meaning veterinarians must notify state authorities when LSD is discovered. According to Farmer’s Weekly, symptoms  of LSD include the following:

  • Skin nodules and ulcers ranging from 0.5 cm to 5 cm in size and can vary from a few to hundreds. They occur anywhere on the skin, including the nose, udder and vulva in cows, and the scrotum in bulls;
  • Legs become swollen and develop sores;
  • Enlarged lymph nodes;
  • Pneumonia/coughing as a result of infection of the respiratory tract;
  • Nasal discharge;
  • Infertility;
  • Mastitis, reducing milk production;
  • Fever;
  • Emaciation;
  • Excessive salivation.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) says LSD is endemic in most African countries and reports it has spread rapidly through the Middle East, south-east Europe, the Balkans, Caucasus, Russia, and Kazakhstan. It is caused by lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), a virus from the family Poxviridae, genus Capripoxvirus. Sheeppox virus and Goatpox virus are the two other virus species in this genus.

The recently published EFSA report gives an update on the occurrence of LSD and the effectiveness of vaccination. It also analyses the risk factors for its spread in south-eastern Europe. The report is based on data collected by affected countries and those at risk.

However, Alessandro Broglia, a veterinarian at EFSA, warned: “Even if the number of outbreaks has decreased significantly, the disease has not been eliminated from the region yet and therefore we need to remain vigilant.”

In 2017 most of the outbreaks – 379 out of 385 – were reported in areas of Albania where the vaccination program had not yet been completed. Few outbreaks occurred elsewhere, with two in Greece and four in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

One of the factors responsible for the spread of LSD is an increase in the number of insects that transmit the disease, as a result of warm temperatures. Experts also concluded that in Greece the risk of infection is six times higher among farm animals that have access to outdoor space than in those kept indoors. This is because the former group is more exposed to transmitting insects.

EFSA says the cooperation and commitment of countries involved in the data collection were crucial for the report. EFSA used data provided by Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

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