Panic among dairy farmers as mysterious disease spreads among cattle in border areas of Jammu Samba Kathua

Deptt sets up control room, bans import of bovines from neighbouring states
*Around 1500 animals affected, 17 dead in Jammu

Govind Sharma

JAMMU, Aug 9: The spread of a “mysterious disease” among cattle in border areas of Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts has led to panic among dairy farmers and cattle owners of the area, with around 1500 animals reportedly affected with the disease and 17 succumbed to it so far in Jammu district alone.
According to the reports, the signs of this mysterious disease are same as that of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), an infectious disease in cattle caused by a virus of the family Poxviridae, also known as Neethling virus. Pertinently LSD has already spread in neighbouring states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
As per the reports, the cattle affected with this mysterious disease are showing appearance of circular, firm nodes on the animal’s hide or skin that look similar to lumps. Infected animals are losing weight and have fever and lesions in the mouth, along with a reduced milk yield as well as excessive nasal and salivary secretion.
Reports said that firstly, some suspected cases was reported from Khour area of Jammu around 1 ½ month ago and slow and study, cases started coming from other border areas such as Jourian, Pargwal, RS Pura, Baspur, Bishnah and Arnia. Due to this mysterious disease, dairy farmers are worried as there is no treatment available for this mysterious disease which appears like LSD.
Sharing with his woes with Excelsior, a dairy farmer belonging to Pindi Camp of Arnia block said that all his cattle are suffering with this mysterious disease. “Earlier, there was an Animal Husbandry dispensary in our village but we don’t know where it has been shifted now. We were calling private veterinary doctors earlier but after the death of our one animal, even these doctors have switched their mobile phone numbers. We are clueless where to go and to whom to contact and in the meanwhile the disease is spreading fast in entire village,” he added.
Ramu Din, another dairy farmer from Arnia said that for last 20 days, their cows have been infected with this mysterious disease and their skin have damaged. “They are not eating anything. We are giving them antibiotics and paracetamol but instead of showing recovery they are becoming weak day by day. We appeal Animal Husbandry Department to send their team in our village and provide us requisite medicines for our ailing cattle, otherwise they will die”, he added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director Animal Husbandry Department (Central) Jammu, Dr Javid Ahmed Katoch said it is still not confirmed whether this mysterious disease is Lumpy Skin Disease or something else. He said in first week of July, they took samples of some cattle affected with this mysterious disease from Khour area and sent the same to ICAR- NISHAD laboratory in Bhopal but all the samples were found to be negative for LSD.
“In July ending also, we sent some samples for testing but reports are still awaited and until we receive the reports, we cannot declare this mysterious disease as LSD,” he added. However, he said that keeping in view that LSD has already spread in our neighbouring states like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, an advisory has been issued for all stakeholders related to dairy sector.
Dr Katoch said that any person noticing symptoms such as high fever, enlarged superficial lymph nodes and multiple nodules on the skin and mucous membranes of the cattle should immediately report to the nearest Veterinary Center and the sick animal should be isolated from healthy animals till complete recovery. He said as the disease is mostly transmitted through vectors (different species of flies, mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, etc) and sometimes through contaminated feed and water, fly repellants and ectoparaciticides should be applied on the healthy and sick animals in the infected zone. He advised the dairy farmers and cattle owners to follow all the hygiene practices in the area where animals are infected with this mysterious disease.
He said teams of experts have been formed to visit different areas and conduct survey of the infected animals so that precautionary measures can be taken against the new disease. “Meanwhile, instructions have been issued to stop import of bovine animals from other states for next 15 days or till sufficient measures are taken by the state governments of neighboruing states where the LSD is already spread,” Dr Katoch informed.
Chief Animal Husbandry Officer Jammu Dr Altaf Ali Syed said that infection to about 1500 animals have been reported from border areas of Jammu and of them 700 animals have recovered, 17 died and rest are under treatment and in phase of recovery. He said that mortality rate in this suspected LSD is less than 2% and morbidity rate is 10 to 12%.
“People are being made aware of precautions like segregating affected animals, restricting their movement, keeping cow sheds clean by washing them with phenyl etc and using fly repellents to keep flies, mosquitoes and other blood sucker vectors away as there is no cure available at present for this suspected LSD,” he said, adding a vaccination to prevent against the disease is, however, available and the Department is in process of purchasing about 8000 doses of this vaccine on emergency basis. We have also established a control room at Directorate Office, Talab Tillo, Jammu for convenience of the dairy farmers.
He said this disease does not spread from animals to humans, and humans cannot get infected with it. “While the virus does not spread to humans, milk produced by an infected animal will be fit for human consumption after boiling or pasteurization as these processes will kill the viruses, if any, in the milk”, he added.