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Lumpy Skin Disease of Cattle: Causes, Spread and Treatment

 

 

Context:

  • Thousands of animals, mainly cows and buffaloes, have died in India due to the infectious lumpy skin disease.
  • Originally found in Africa and first observed in Zambia, it has also spread to countries in the Middle East, Asia, and eastern Europe.


Analysis

Lumpy Skin Disease

  • Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which belongs to the genus capripoxvirus, a part of the poxviridae family (smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family).
  • The most distinctive clinical sign is widespread, firm, painful nodules of the skin and mucosal surfaces.
    • The lumpy skin disease virus affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin.
  • It is not a zoonotic virus, meaning the disease cannot spread to humans.
  • It is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes.
  • Infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions which may contaminate common feeding and water troughs.
    • Thus, the disease can either spread through direct contact with the vectors or through contaminated fodder and water.
  • The morbidity of the disease varies between two to 45% and mortality or rate of date is less than 10%.
  • The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration.
  • It is safe to consume milk from cattle infected by LSD, as it is a non-zoonotic disease.
  • Currently, the only vaccines available for the disease are vaccines for goat pox and sheep pox, which are related to the LSD virus.
  • Attenuated vaccines may help control the outbreaks of this disease.

What are Attenuated Vaccines?

  • Live vaccines use a weakened (or attenuated) form of the germ that causes a disease.
  • Because these vaccines are so similar to the natural infection (as the immune system does not differentiate between an infection with a weakened vaccine virus and an infection with a wild virus) that they help prevent, they create a strong and long-lasting immune response.
    • Injected live, attenuated vaccines produce immunity in most recipients with one dose.
  • To produce an immune response, live, attenuated vaccines must replicate in the vaccinated person.
    • A relatively small dose of administered virus or bacteria replicates in the body and creates enough of the organism to stimulate an immune response.
  • Although live, attenuated vaccines replicate, they usually do not cause disease such as that caused by the wild form of the organism.
    • When a live, attenuated vaccine does cause disease, it is usually much milder than the natural disease and is considered an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Limitations

  • Because they contain a small amount of the weakened live virus, they might not be suitable for people with weakened immune systems, long-term health problems, or people who’ve had an organ transplant.
  • Live, attenuated vaccines are fragile and can be damaged or destroyed by heat and light.
  • They need to be kept cool, so they don’t travel well. That means they can’t be used in countries with limited access to refrigerators.
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