FAO trains Kyrgyz veterinarians to combat lumpy skin disease in cattle

Simulation exercise to prepare to combat lumpy skin disease. ©FAO/Evgeniy Pechurin

Issyk-Kul region – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a simulation exercise to prepare veterinarians to eliminate an outbreak of lumpy skin disease of cattle. The exercise was part of its project “Strengthening the regional preparedness, prevention and response against lumpy skin disease in Central Asia,” and its objective was to increase the competence of the veterinary services of Kyrgyzstan in epidemiology, risk assessment and emergency preparedness should there be an outbreak of the disease.

The training was held from 5 to 8 June 2023 in the village of Bokonbayevo, Ton District, Issyk-Kul Region. More than 80 private veterinarians from all regions of Kyrgyzstan participated. Mark Hovari and Nadav Galon, FAO animal health experts, led simulated responses to a possible outbreak of lumpy skin disease in Kyrgyzstan. In November 2022, a similar exercise was held for employees of the State veterinary service of Kyrgyzstan.

Lumpy skin disease is a highly infectious viral disease transmitted by blood-feeding insects and from cattle to cattle. It causes skin nodes, or tubers on the skin, prolonged fever, damage to the lymphatic system, eyes and mucous membranes, internal edema, and it can be fatal. Lumpy skin disease is not transmissible to humans, but it has a significant economic impact due to reduced milk production and body weight of cattle.

It was first reported in Africa. In 2013, the disease appeared in Türkiye, and then spread rapidly to Eastern Europe and the Balkans, affecting the Caucasus, the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Although no cases have been reported in Kyrgyzstan, it is an emerging threat and proactive preventive measures are being taken.

FAO encourages Governments in regions at risk to undertake vaccination campaigns, especially in anticipation of seasonal insect outbreaks, to prevent, control and eliminate the disease.

“Combating transboundary animal diseases, which include lumpy skin disease, is of great importance at the national and international level, as the disease has adverse effects on animal health, which in turn negatively affects trade and production,” said Mark Hovari, FAO Animal Health Preparedness Expert. “Trainings, such as this one, are designed to bring together regional experts and accumulate their accumulated experience in effective control of animal diseases, and they serve as an important tool to control the spread of transboundary animal diseases.”

To make the training process more effective, all participants were divided into three groups. They took turns in a two-part course. One part consisted of theoretical exercises, in which veterinarians were introduced to the most important information about the effects of lumpy skin disease on animals, its diagnosis, ways to prevent the spread of the disease, and best practices for biosafety. The second part was visits to farms where veterinarians practiced procedures in case of suspected disease, including bio-protection of entrances and exits, clinical trials, and sampling and epidemiological investigations to replicate a real disease outbreak.

“To date, no outbreaks have been registered in Kyrgyzstan, but there is a potential risk. In this regard, it is necessary to study international experience in the fight against this disease, to strengthen the readiness of veterinary specialists,” noted Zarylbek Usukeev, Senior Inspector of the Department of Epizootic Supervision of the Veterinary Service under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic. “It is important to note that all participants of the training are specialists who work directly on the field and can theoretically face this disease.”

The exercise is part of a broader effort by FAO to assist Kyrgyzstan and Central Asian countries in strengthening their capacity to respond to a possible outbreak of lumpy skin disease. At the beginning of 2023, laboratory training was held in Bishkek. The project also provided Kyrgyzstan with diagnostic kits and reagents for the timely detection of the disease. In addition, based on the results of the simulation exercise, FAO will help Kyrgyzstan to develop a National Action Plan for an effective response to a possible outbreak of a dangerous disease.

Related information:
Veterinarians take virtual training to fight transboundary animal disease

Evgeniy Pechurin
National Communication Specialist