Lumpy skin disease has spread in a dozen states and Union Territories.
NEW DELHI: Mandeep Singh Benipal, a medium farmer from village Baher, district Fatehgarh Sahib of Punjab, was not aware of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) before his two cows died due to the viral disease. Now, he is only left with two cows and one calf, of which one cow is suffering because of Lumpy Skin Disease. Dairy farming is one of his main sources of income and the death of two cows has impacted him mentally and financially.
“My father and I used to take care of them like our own children but, watching them dying like this was a shock for me,” said Mandeep Singh. According to Mandeep, his cows were so weak that they were not able to stand and even were not able to breathe. “It is like coronavirus for cattle,” said Mandeep.
LSD has affected more than 11 lakh cattle in 165 districts. The disease has spread in a dozen states and Union Territories. According to various news reports, LSD cases this year were reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Goa, and out of these states and UTs Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana are the worst impacted states.
The disease spreads rapidly among animals through flies, mosquitoes and ticks. It causes soft blister-like nodules all over the body, fever, runny nose, watery eyes, salivation, reduced milk yield and difficulty in eating.
Locals in Punjab say that daily on average more than three dozen cows are dying in a village. Cows infected with this disease are not able to produce milk and this has directly impacted milk production in the state. Districts like Fazilka, Muktsar, Faridkot, Bathinda and Tarn Taran are the worst-affected areas in the state.
Because of LSD, Kulwinder Singh Brar, a farmer from Zira, Ferozepur district in Punjab, has incurred a loss of lakhs of rupees. Kulwinder owns a dairy farm, where he used to have more than 130 cows, but after the spread of viral cattle disease, he lost 18 cows in a week and more than 90 cows are infected with LSD.
“Earlier, we used to have 1600-1700 litres of milk daily but, after this disease has spread, we are collecting around 1000-1200 litres of milk daily,” said Kulwinder. According to Kulwinder, the cost of his single cow was around Rs 1 lakh and he has spent around Rs 2 lakh on the treatment of his cows. Asked about any help from the Punjab government, he said: “If I had waited for help from the government, my cattle could have died.”
“I have only six acres of land and cattle farming is my main source of income. The infected cattle will take around a year to come back to normal condition; till then, I don’t know how I will manage,” added Kulwinder. Data provided by the state’s animal husbandry department claims that a total of 1.26 lakh cattle have been affected by lumpy skin disease and more than 10,000 animals have died so far because of the infectious disease. However, the Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association claims that more than one lakh cattle have died in the state due to LSD since July. PDFA claims that dairy farmers in Punjab have witnessed a 15-20% fall in milk output in the wake of LSD. Both state and central governments are working to contain the disease, and the Punjab government has formed a team of ministers to assess the situation. Experts believe that if the spread continues, this could increase the price of milk in the coming days.