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AGA NEWS

New field manual on lumpy skin disease

 

FAO has published a new manual, which is part of the FAO animal production and health series: Lumpy skin disease - A field manual for veterinarians. This manual is aimed to those in the first line of defence, i.e. those working in the field, who are most likely to encounter this vector-borne, viral disease that afflicts cattle. The manual provides veterinary professionals and paraprofessionals (in the field and in slaughterhouses) and laboratory diagnosticians with the information they need to promptly diagnose and respond to an outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD). Cattle farmers will also benefit from reading it.

 

Characterized by nodules on the skin, LSD is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, other hematophagous insects, and flies. In addition to vectors, transmission may occur through consumption of contaminated feed or water, direct contact, natural mating or artificial insemination. LSD is classified as a transboundary animal disease that can rapidly spread across national borders and reach epidemic proportions, thus requiring regional cooperation in prevention, control and eradication.

 

The disease has dramatic effects on rural livelihoods, which are often strongly dependent on cattle, as it slashes milk production and may lead to sterility in bulls and fertility problems in females. It damages hides, and causes death due to secondary bacterial infections. Economic effects at national level are also devastating as the presence of the disease triggers strict trade restrictions.

 

LSD was long limited to sub-Saharan Africa. However, over the past decades it has slowly invaded new territories, sweeping first into the Middle East and Turkey, and, since 2015, into most of the Balkan countries, the Caucasus and the Russian Federation, where the disease continues to spread despite implemented prevention and control efforts. The risk of an imminent incursion into neighbouring, still unaffected countries is very high.

 

Currently, veterinary authorities and service providers in the Middle East and Europe are facing the disease for first time. Veterinarians, cattle farmers and others along the value chain are therefore unfamiliar with LSD’s clinical presentation, its transmission routes and the available prevention and control options. Large-scale vaccination is the most effective way of limiting the spread of the disease. Effective vaccines against LSD exist and the sooner they are used, the less severe the economic impact of an outbreak is likely to be.

 

This new FAO field manual comprises a general description of LSD, including clinical signs, geographic distribution, epidemiology, host range and transmission pathways. It then moves chronologically from detection of cattle showing typical clinical signs of LSD – later referred to as “suspected case(s)” – to the consideration of differential diagnoses, postmortem findings and laboratory confirmation of field diagnosis. The primary diagnostic tools available for the detection of both virus and antibodies are described, as well as recommendations for sample collection and transport from the field to national or international reference laboratories. The immediate control and eradication actions following a suspected/detected LSD case on a farm are described. Additionally, the manual covers various aspects related to awareness-raising and feasible post-outbreak surveillance.

 

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