Lumpy Skin Disease kills over 12,000 milch cattle in Punjab, Haryana; milk yield drops by 18-20%

Punjab has been badly affected with over 10,000 cows and buffaloes falling prey to this disease in the last three months while Haryana fared better due to pre-emptive action taken by officials

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Bipin Bhardwaj

Dairy farming, the second largest employer after agriculture, has suffered a major setback in Punjab and Haryana with the outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) that so far killed over 12,000 milch cattle, a majority of them cows, and infected over two lakh in the region.

The two states have witnessed 18-20 per cent fall in milk yield due to the outbreak of the disease, thus causing huge financial losses, besides the loss of livestock, to hundreds of dairy farmers.

Punjab has been badly affected with over 10,000 cows and buffaloes falling prey to this disease in the last three months while Haryana fared better due to premptive action taken by officials.

While officials of the Punjab Animal Husbandry Department remained passive after the first case of LSD was reported in Kutch (Gujarat) in April, Haryana ramped up the screening and testing facility at Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Hisar, vaccinated the animals and received positive results.

Punjab, where the first case of the disease was detected on July 4 in Mehta village of Bathinda district, was caught napping and has suffered considerable loss of livestock. The authorities took cognisance of the outbreak of the disease and constituted district-level teams to educate and inform the farmers to take preventive measures against the disease only at the end of July.

They also claimed to have been unaware of the vaccine (Lumpyvax) against the disease for cows, though one for goats and sheep was available.

Ironically, the region's premier North Regional Divisional Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL) based in Jalandhar does not have the facility for testing samples for the disease. The government has to send blood samples to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, for testing.

The worst-affected districts are Fazilka, Muktsar, Faridkot, Bathinda and Tarn Taran.

According to Punjab Animal Husbandry Department records, 1.26 lakh cattle have been affected by LSD while more than 10,000 animals have died so far because of the infectious disease.

The department claims to have administered around 5.94 lakh doses of vaccine to animals in order to check the spread of the disease. It aims to vaccinate 10 lakh more cattle next week.

The effect of LSD has started decreasing in Punjab, an official claimed.

Records of Haryana Animal Husbandry department reveal that around 840 animals have died and around 60,000, including 100 buffaloes, infected with LSD across the state. Districts like Yamunanagar, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Ambala, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal and Panchkula are the worst hit.

Officials of the department claimed that out of 19 lakh cattle, nearly five lakh have been vaccinated in the state. The infected animals recover within 10 days and the mortality rate is less than one per cent. The recovery rate is quite high as the disease is under control now, they claimed.

Veterinary experts say that LSD is not zoonotic. Transmission of the disease from animals to humans is not possible so consumption of milk of ailing animals is safe, after it has been properly boiled.

Meanwhile, Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association (PDFA) on Sunday claimed that the dairy farmers have witnessed a 15-20 per cent dip in milk yield due to the outbreak of the LSD.

With the contagious disease affecting cattle, especially cows and also causing mortality among animals, the small and medium dairy farmers, whose livelihood entirely depends on livestock, were badly affected, it said.

As a result of the disease and ensuing cattle mortality, average milk production of cows is expected to remain low for at least one year, said its president Daljit Singh Sadarpura.

Punjab’s total milk production of cows and buffaloes is around 3 crore litres per day, out of which 1.25 crore litres is sold in the market, he said.

On August 16, Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Rupala had reviewed the vaccination of cattle in Punjab and Haryana in the wake of LSD affecting a large number of animals and had assured necessary help from the Centre.

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