05 June 2019 - Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a newly emerged transboundary animal disease spreading throughout the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Russian Federation. Introduction of LSD virus into naïve population causes considerable economic losses due to death of cattle, decrease of their productivity, the cost of vaccination campaigns, and its effects on trade.
The risk of an imminent incursion into neighbouring still unaffected countries is high, particularly for those sharing borders and (both formal and informal) trade routes. This is the case of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. This is why a technical cooperation project titled “Strengthening the regional preparedness, prevention and response against lumpy skin disease in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine (TCP/RER/3605)” was launched.
Within this project, a desktop simulation exercise was held in spring 2019 within each recipient country to assess the impact of previous training-of-trainers activities, to review the use of the LSD contingency plans developed by countries (based on a template provided), and to improve preparedness for the disease. The following simulation exercises took place:
- 5- 8 March 2019, Kiev, Ukraine
- 26- 28 March 2019, Chișinău, Moldova
- 24-26 April 2019, Vitebsk, Belarus
The exercises were carried out in an informal setting, with key personal, discussing various simulated scenarios to improve their knowledge and validate the national LSD contingency plans and LSD emergency vaccination plans. Each exercise involved 20-25 participants representing central and regional/local level veterinary service, academia and various producer associations.
The exercises were divided into four core modules: detection, early response, vaccination at the border and emergency vaccination inland. For each module a different scenarios were presented: outbreak close to the border, within the country but at the border region and outbreak(s) within the country.
During the detection module, the best methods for early detection for the disease were discussed, as well as what laboratory diagnostic methods are most suited for this task. As supplementary material, trainers provided a written guide on surveillance and early detection of LSD.
During the early response module, discussions were held on the chain of command, stamping out policy, size of zones and possible measures without vaccination. Most discussion was on the stamping out policy and discussing the experience of other countries experiencing LSD.
The last two modules focused on vaccination, i.e. the importance of preventive vaccination and its impact, determining vaccination areas in case of limited number of vaccine doses, the difference between heterologous and homologues vaccines, and the monitoring of effectiveness of vaccination. As supplementary material, participants were provided with a guide on LSD emergency vaccination.
All three events provided an insight on the current level of preparedness of the countries while, for participants, it provided a great platform to discuss current policies, exchange views on the current lumpy skin disease preparedness and to deepen their knowledge about the disease and what to do if an outbreak occurs. The current LSD national contingency plans will be revised by countries based on the outcomes and recommendations of the simulation exercises.