FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Cattle disease puts region’s veterinary experts on alert

An economically devastating cattle disease has made alarming advances into the Caucasus and nearby countries. To provide the latest information on diagnosis, prevention and control of Lumpy Skin Disease, FAO organized a technical workshop in Georgia recently. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Russian Federation participated.

Lumpy Skin Disease has covered a lot of ground since it was first discovered in Zambia in 1929. First infecting sub-Saharan Africa, it experienced a surge in the 1980s and began moving northward infecting northern Africa. In 1988 it moved into Egypt and in 1989 Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. In the last decade alone Lumpy Skin Disease has been reported in Egypt, Israel, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and most recently Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Greece, Russian Federation and the South Ossetia Autonomous Oblast.

‘’There is a lack of expertise on prevention and control of Lumpy Skin Disease in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” said Andriy Rozstalnyy, animal health and production officer with FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. “Technical assistance and capacity building on surveillance, diagnosis, and control including vaccination are required. Cross-border and regional cooperation among veterinary services, and with international organizations, should be fostered to address this emerging transboundary disease.’’

Lumpy Skin Disease not only causes substantial economic losses in terms of dairy, meat and skin production, but can lead to restrictions or banning of international trade in live animals and animal products.

During the FAO workshop, in-depth discussion and a lengthy question-and-answer session followed presentations by Evgeny Khinich and Boris Even-Tov – experts from the Israeli Veterinary Services, Francesco Berlingieri, Director General for Health and Food Safety in the European Union, and Nick Lyons, expert with the Pirbright Institute which is acting as the World Organization for Animal Health reference laboratory for the disease.

Participants also presented and discussed their national experiences in controlling and preventing the disease. Azerbaijan described the vaccination strategy adopted after a series of outbreaks in 2014, while the Russian Federation related the actions taken following an incursion in September of this year. Georgia outlined preparedness activities including awareness-raising, increased clinical surveillance, and vaccination strategies.

Workshop participants agreed that countries should work together to enhance their capacities for diagnosis, conduct adequate clinical surveillance, and harmonize vaccination strategies using effective vaccines. They also recommended continued research aimed at finding more effective vaccines and a better understanding of the disease epidemiology in the region.

FAO encourages a regional approach to control and prevent Lumpy Skin Disease through technical capacity building,” said Eran Raizman, head of FAO’s Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal Diseases.

FAO is working to follow up on these recommendations by coordinating activities at regional level aimed at effective prevention and control.

27 November 2015, Tbilisi, Georgia