1. Animal Husbandry

Covid-Style Control Room in Udaipur Aids in Fight Against LSD

There is no cure for lumpy skin disease at the moment, and treatment focuses on clinical symptoms. The vaccine currently used is the same as for the goatpox virus, though two Indian Council of Agricultural Research institutes have reportedly developed an indigenous vaccine for the disease, which the Union government intends to commercialize.

Chintu Das
Lumpy Skin Disease
Lumpy Skin Disease

The Udaipur district administration, which is fighting lumpy skin disease (LSD) outbreaks in several villages in the area, has set up a Covid-style control room at a government-run veterinary hospital in the city. While a high number of lumpy skin disease infections were reported in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Jalore, the adjoining district of Udaipur only recently began seeing cases of the disease.

Surya Prakash Trivedi, the joint director, of animal husbandry, is running a control room in his office at the veterinary hospital in Chetak Circle, Udaipur. "When we got the first case (of lumpy skin disease) in Udaipur in the last week of July, we set up the control room. A control room has been established at the district level, and we have created a rapid response team at the block level so that they can deal with suspected cases as soon as possible," as per Trivedi.

During the Covid pandemic, several metros, including Delhi and Mumbai, set up control rooms to track cases at the district and ward levels, recording new infections, hospital bed availability, and recoveries. The Udaipur administration is taking a similar approach to halting the spread of lumpy skin disease in the district, identifying animals that require treatment, vaccinations, or isolation.

According to Trivedi, 4,854 cattle have been infected in the district so far, with 82 of them dying. To make matters worse, only 11 of the district's 23 veterinary officer positions are filled. Trivedi is fielding calls from different gramme panchayats across Udaipur, each requesting a doctor to visit for treatment or to report suspected cases of lumpy skin disease. She is working with volunteers from a local NGO called 'Vriksh.'

Based on these calls, Kailash Vaishnav, the founder of the Vriksh NGO, coordinates with the ward's nodal veterinary officer. He relays the information to the doctor, who travels to remote villages to gather additional information.

The village of Sare is located more than 20 kilometres from Udaipur. All roads leading to it are filled with potholes because it is nestled among hills, and the region's constant rains make matters worse. Sare has no mobile network coverage. Villagers go to a designated spot atop a nearby hill to make phone calls.

Dr. Subash, the veterinary officer stationed in Chirwa village, has learned of a possible case of lumpy skin disease in Sare. "The village is on high alert right now." As a result, we get a lot of false alarms. "This is most likely a false alarm because there are no cases in the surrounding areas," Dr. Subash says. He gathers the villagers in Sare and patiently listens to them describe the case.

He then informs the audience about the disease, how it spreads via mosquitoes, flies, and ticks, and what precautions must be taken to keep it from spreading. "This disease may affect your cattle's milk production," he warns the villagers. "Please advise everyone to remain vigilant for a few weeks until this subsides."

Dr. Subhash's team then distributes disease information pamphlets as well as cattle deworming medications. "Deworming improves the animal's immune system's ability to fight pathogens," he explains. The day of the veterinary officer is now divided into two halves. The first is devoted to visiting villages that are free of infectious diseases. He spends the latter half of the day treating lumpy skin disease outbreaks in villages.

 

"I do this to avoid spreading the infection from village to village," he explains. Over 10,000 cows require attention in the areas assigned to him. Meanwhile, livestock assistants Khushbu Sharma and Rajendra Kumar Meena have arrived drenched at the Badgaon animal clinic. The two have been traveling since 8 a.m., visiting villages such as Thur, Loyara, and Chilakwas.

The team skips lunch, restocks on medicines and syringes, and heads back out to treat more animals, accompanied by Senior Veterinary Officer Dr. Duttaray Choudhary. The team first travels to Madar from the Badgaon centre to treat a family's cow that has been infected with lumpy skin disease. Dr. Choudhary arrives and discovers that, despite their advice, the family has not isolated the calves of the infected cow. As a result, the calves are starting to show symptoms.

"We haven't taken any vacations in the last ten days," he says. The district animal husbandry department keeps track of the number of cases and treatment on the ground via a WhatsApp group. While medicines are in plenty, the team notes that the region has not received any goatpox vaccines due to shortage.

There is no cure for lumpy skin disease at the moment, and treatment focuses on clinical symptoms. The vaccine currently used is the same as for the goatpox virus, though two Indian Council of Agricultural Research institutes have reportedly developed an indigenous vaccine for the disease, which the Union government intends to commercialise.

(Source-The Print)

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