20 October 2017 - In 2013, lumpy skin disease (LSD) moved out of Africa, spreading rapidly throughout the Middle East and into Turkey, where it is currently endemic. Since 2014, LSD has spread north-westwards into the Balkans – first into Greece, then Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo. There was a north-eastwards spread into the Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia – and into Kazakhstan and the southern part of the Russian Federation in 2014/16. It is likely that LSD will continue its spread to central Asia, western Europe and central-eastern Europe.
Because LSD is a new disease in the Balkans and the Caucasus, the veterinary services in countries that are affected or at risk have no previous experience of the disease and hence face serious challenges. There are also knowledge gaps related to epidemiology, vector ecology, immunity and vaccine effectiveness and the efficacy of the various control options. To address these challenges, FAO is assisting countries in the region in the prevention and control of LSD. The FAO approach is based on a close monitoring of the disease situation, having a harmonized regional approach, and involving and raising awareness among all stakeholders. Three of the latest examples of assistance in the field of LSD are presented below.
A field manual has been developed that will give private and official field veterinarians, para-professionals and laboratory diagnosticians the information needed for the detection and diagnosis of LSD. The contents cover basic epidemiology, clinical recognition, sampling and shipping of specimens, and basic concepts for prevention and control. The manual is practical in that it avoids highly scientific discussion and provides numerous pictures and diagrams. It is already available in English, Albanian and Macedonian, and will soon be available as well in Russian, Serbian and Turkish. In Albania, 110 copies have just been printed and will be distributed among field veterinarians in the coming days. If you would like to receive the pdf of the manual in any of the above languages, please contact FAO Animal Health Officer Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo.
A template for an LSD contingency plan was also developed. Such plan is as a key instrument for preparedness and control of a disease emergency. LSD contingency plans are country-specific, thus elaborated taken into consideration the geopolitical position of a country, its animal health status, structure of the livestock sector, domestic bovine population, surveillance, prevention and control strategies in place, administrative organization of the country, and epidemiological situation of LSD in the region. However, there a series of key elements that have to be present in any LSD contingency plan. This recently developed template aims to aid veterinary services in the development of their own national LSD contingency plans.
Finally, an LSD field training has been developed and is currently being implemented in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The field training, developed in close collaboration with the veterinary authorities, aims to improve field detection, prevention and control of LSD and bluetongue. The program has a two-level train-of-trainer/cascade format and will eventually target a total of 200-250 veterinarians across all regions of the country, plus 1-2 selected livestock advisors per region. For the initial 2-day training of trainers (Skopje, September 2017), the focus group comprised of staff from the central office and selected official veterinarians, who will then replicate the trainings in each of the seven regions. Each veterinarian will receive a printed copy of the LSD field manual in Macedonian.