At least 100 cattle and buffaloes have died from lumpy skin disease (LSD) in 126 villages in seven Lao provinces, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Department of Livestock and Fisheries.
LSD is a viral infection that affects cattle but cannot be transmitted to humans. It is transmitted by direct contact, such as by eating contaminated food, proximity to a herd, and by contact with an infected animal.
More than 11,000 cattle and buffaloes have contracted the disease in Laos, of which at least 100 animals have died and more than 8,000 have been treated.
The provinces with the highest number of infected livestock are Khammuan with 5,100, of which about 3,000 animals have been treated and at least 60 have died, followed by Savannakhet with nearly 4,000 sick animals of which 3,000 have been treated and 60 have died.
In Vientiane, more than 2,000 cattle have been infected, of which 12 have died and at least 1,000 have recovered.
Department director Vilaiphone Voraphim said the virus is also indirectly transmitted by blood-sucking beetles and mosquitoes.
Outbreaks of the disease have been reported since mid-April.
The department has issued instructions on preventing the spread of the disease in non-infected areas and advice on how to care for livestock in infected areas.
A temporary ban on the import, export and transit of cattle and buffaloes between countries, provinces, districts and villages has been imposed for a period of 30 days and essential medicines have been supplied to affected areas.
A vaccine for the disease is only available in other countries, such as Russia and those in Africa, which the department will try to procure although it is expensive. In the absence of vaccine, livestock farmers must take care of their cattle and buffaloes and follow the instructions of local authorities to prevent the disease from infecting their animals.
For example, groups of cattle feeding together should be monitored and blood-sucking beetles prevented from biting cattle as this can spread the disease. To prevent uninfected herds from falling ill, control is necessary, but getting rid of blood-feeding insects through the use of insecticides should be done with caution.
LSD was detected in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe last year and also in neighbouring countries, including Cambodia, earlier this year.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK