08 February 2019 - Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a newly emerged transboundary animal disease that has spread within just a few years throughout the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkans, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. 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 very high, particularly for those sharing borders and (both formal and informal) trade routes. This is why it becomes paramount to predict the future spread and assess the risk
FAO, together with researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have developed a spatial model that allows to predict the LSD risk in neighbouring unaffected areas in Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, identifying several areas with high risk of spread.
To come up with the model, data from LSD outbreaks until September 2018 were collected from affected countries in the Balkans, Caucasus, and Middle East. During this period, a total of 7,593 locations from 22 countries were affected, 46,000 cattle were clinically affected by LSD, 3,700 animals died and 17,500 were slaughtered due to culling policies to stop the spread of the disease. Most outbreaks occurred in 2016, between the months of May and November.
The affected region was then divided into a grid of 10 × 10 km cells and a spatial regression model was developed to analyse the association between the reported LSD outbreaks and climatic variables, land cover, and cattle density. The results showed an increased risk of LSD in areas mostly covered with croplands, grassland, or shrubland. Also in areas with higher cattle density, as well as areas with higher annual mean temperature and higher temperature diurnal range.
Results from this study provide useful information for the design of surveillance and awareness systems, and preventive measures, e.g., vaccination programmes. The geographical areas with a highest risk according to the model are the south of Central Asia and the Caucasus, on top of those countries already affected (see map).
The work was published in a peer-reviewed article, which contains further information: Allepuz A, Casal J, Beltrán-Alcrudo D. 2018. Spatial analysis of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in Eurasia - Predicting areas at risk for further spread within the region. TBED 2018 Dec 6. doi: 10.1111/tbed.13090.