Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is an OIE-listed notifiable disease caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV). It affects cattle and water buffalo, damaging animal health and causing significant production and trade losses.
LSD has been spreading into different regions and countries in recent years and continues to move. Find out where the latest reported outbreaks are with this map.
LSDV is a type of Pox virus classified in the genus (or group) Capripoxvirus. It is closely related to Sheeppox virus and Goatpox virus, however it is very species specific so LSDV only causes disease in cattle and water buffalo. It is therefore essential that disease control focusses on cattle.
Unlike some diseases, LSD is not spread directly from cattle to cattle. Instead it is transmitted indirectly with the help of insects (‘vectors’), including mosquitoes, which pick up the virus when they bite an infected animal and then spread it to uninfected animals. Such vector-borne diseases are likely to continue spreading because these insects increase in numbers in warm weather which means that global warming could have a huge impact.
Vaccination is the most effective means of controlling LSD in endemic regions (Tuppurainen et al (2014) Antiviral Research 109: 1-6) as well as being the most effective measure for countries previously free of LSD (EFSA 2017). Whilst there are different types of vaccines available, the homologous (LSDV-based) vaccines containing the Neethling strain have been proven in wide-scale mass vaccination programmes (EFSA 2018). A high quality vaccine should always be used.
As the disease name suggests, affected animals typically develop skin nodules or lumps, which can occur all over the body and vary in size. Other clinical signs include fever, general malaise, ocular and nasal discharge, and sudden decrease in milk production. As these are non-specific, outbreaks of LSD may not be detected quickly enabling it to spread further. Morbidity and mortality may vary between 10-20% and 1-5% respectively (OIE Technical Card, July 2017), and the severity of disease in those affected varies from mild to fatal. LSD outbreaks have a huge impact on the farming industry because they lead to significant production losses. They also cause serious damage to trade because of major restrictions for the export of live cattle, milk and meat products, skins and hides.
LSD is caused by a virus which means that there is no specific treatment. Control of LSD must focus on prevention, including vaccination.
In the event of outbreaks in disease-free countries then slaughter of infected and in-contact animals plus movement restrictions may be considered. However, this relies on detecting the disease very early and putting such controls in place very quickly. As this is expensive and may not be practically achievable, vaccination with a good quality vaccine is recommended.