Lumpy skin warning

By Lynda Gray

In Livestock4 Minutes

Don’t lump it, do more and step up preventive action was the message to the Australian government and ag sector leaders from presenters at the Northern Territory Cattle Association conference about the increasing threat of lumpy skin disease (LSD).

The serious bovine disease is edging closer to Australia and has put the cattle industry on high alert.

An outbreak would have devastating consequences for the cattle industry in Northern Australia and would trigger the shutdown of major export markets for live cattle, hides and dairy products, Andrew Tongue, Department of Agriculture deputy secretary told the conference.

The disease is a threat to Australia because it could be blown into the northern part of the country on insects such as mosquitoes and midges. It would be difficult to controlin extensive and remote cattle and buffalo herds.

Tongue said changes in geopolitical trade patterns increasingly connecting Africa to Europe and Asia; increased heat, humidity and changes in wind due to climate change were all interacting to increase disease threats such as LSD.

In late March the federal government pumped an extra $61.6 million in emergency additional biosecurity funding for Northern Australia and the Northern Territory Government has disaster if an outbreak eventuates.

Another speaker, Nicole Manison,Minister for Agribusiness said an LSD outbreak in Australia was a case of “not if, but when.”, an Australian beef industry online publication, has kept tabs on spread of the virus throughout southern Asia.

Since 2019 it has spread to India, Taiwanand Vietnam. In 2021 it was reported in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, David Connolly NCTA president  said it won’t be enough for the scale of and in early March this year Indonesia.

Predictions are that LSD will spread through the Indonesian archipelago and if it reaches the eastern island of Timor, Australia will be the next country at risk.

Biosecurity New Zealand is monitoring the spread of LSD.

“We are watching the situation and have  a number of measures in place to prevent it arriving here,” Dr Mary van Andel, Chief Veterinary Officer, Biosecurity NZ says.

“We do not import any live cattle and the importing requirements for cattle semen and embryos include measures for LSD.”

Some animal products (dairy, hides and skins) represent a low risk of introducing disease but the import standards for these products also includes measures such as country freedom or treatment of the disease.

Imported used animal equipment must be cleaned before entering NZ and there are“general requirements” for passengers, mail, and cargo to manage the risk of LSD entry.

Lumpy skin disease is a serious bovine viral disease with only marginally successful vaccine treatments. Apart from lumpy and painful skin lesions it causes fever, watery eyes, loss of appetite and a reluctance to move. It manifests causing emaciation,

reduced milk production, damaged hies and reproductive losses. While some infectedanimals have no clinical signs, others are severely afflicted and die.