The Queensland Government is now in caretaker mode until after the state election. Minimal updates will be made to this site until after the election results are declared.

Lumpy skin disease

Alert

Lumpy skin disease is prohibited matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) was reported for the first time in South and East Asia in 2019. In July 2020, it was reported in a territory of Taiwan (Kinmen County) close to China, and in Nepal.

Further regional detections of the cattle disease are likely.

Early detection and reporting of LSD is critical to rapid containment of this disease.

Under Queensland legislation, if you suspect the presence of Lumpy skin disease, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is an acute to chronic, highly infectious, generalised skin disease of cattle and water buffalo. The disease is caused by a poxvirus and is believed to be mechanically transmitted mostly by a range of arthropods, including biting insects and ticks.

Cause

LSD virus, which belongs to the genus Capripoxvirus of the family Poxviridae.

Distribution

Before 2012, the distribution of LSD had been limited to Africa and Israel. Since then, LSD has spread to many parts of the Middle East, southeast Europe, the Balkans, the Caucuses, the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan.

In 2019, LSD was reported for the first time in Bangladesh, China and India. In July 2020, it was reported in Nepal and in a territory of Taiwan close to China.

Hosts

LSD mainly affects:

  • cattle (Bos inducis and Bos taurus)
  • water buffalo (Bubalis bubalis).

Bos taurus cattle are generally more susceptible than Bos indicus cattle.

Jersey, Guernsey, Friesian and Ayrshire breeds are particularly susceptible.

LSD virus does not infect humans.

Life cycle

The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code describes the incubation period as 28 days.

Affected animals

  • cattle
  • water buffalo

Symptoms

LSD-infected animals may produce clinical signs ranging from inapparent to severe.

Infected animals can have a fever which may exceed 41°C. It is frequently accompanied by:

  • watering eyes
  • increased nasal and salivary secretions
  • loss of appetite
  • reduction in milk production
  • depression
  • enlarged superficial lymph nodes.

Within 1–2 days of the onset of fever, skin nodules of 2–5cm in diameter develop, particularly on the head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia and perineum. The nodules:

  • are full skin thickness
  • typically appear as round, defined areas of erect hair
  • are firm and slightly raised from the surrounding skin.

Skin nodules may become necrotic (localised dead tissue). Some nodules may remain in place, while others slough, leaving a hole of full-skin thickness, which may become infected by bacteria or insects.

Animal mobility is greatly reduced by:

  • lesions in the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscles of the limbs
  • severe skin inflammation caused by secondary infection of lesions.

Body condition may rapidly deteriorate. Some animals may need to be euthanased. Those that recover may remain in extremely poor condition for some time.

Morbidity rates vary greatly and typically range between 10–20%. Mortality rates of 1–5% are usual.

Impacts

The response to an outbreak in Australia would have social, environmental and economic impacts, including substantial export implications.

If LSD becomes established  in Australia, economic losses would be expected because of:

  • stock losses
  • reduced production, including reduced milk yield, loss of animal body condition and rejection or reduced value of the hide
  • preventive vaccination.

How it is spread

The transmission of LSD virus is not completely understood.

The main route of transmission between animals is thought to be mechanical transmission by arthropod vectors, for example:

  • mosquitoes
  • biting flies
  • ticks.

The prevalence of insect vectors may affect the rate of transmission of the virus which could account for the wide variation in reported morbidity (death rates) overseas.

Direct contact between infected animals is considered to play a minor or negligible role in virus transmission.

Infected bulls can excrete the virus in semen and experimental transmission has been demonstrated.

The role of fomites (inanimate objects that could carry the virus) in transmission is unknown, though it's thought that some (e.g. re-used hypodermic needles) may contribute to virus spread.

Risk period

The greatest period of risk is when:

  • infected arthropod vectors are prevalent
  • a naïve susceptible population exists (as it does in Australia)
  • vaccination is not practised (as in Australia).

Risk of entry into Australia

Potential pathways of introduction to Australia include:

  • movement of infected animals
  • introduction of the virus via arthropod vectors.

Both of these introduction pathways are considered to be low likelihood because:

  • Australia does not import live cattle or their germplasm from LSD-infected countries
  • the numbers of arthropod vectors entering via aircraft is very low.

Monitoring and action

Producers are reminded to be aware of the clinical signs of LSD. If LSD is introduced to Australia, it is critically important to identify it quickly and therefore minimise the impacts. If you suspect the presence of this disease in any cattle or water buffalo, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Suspect cases of LSD should be investigated. Where appropriate, diagnostic samples will be collected from representative animals and forwarded to the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness at Geelong for testing.

Control

Prevention

Vaccines are commercially available overseas. They are not currently available in Australia.

Treatment

There is no effective treatment for LSD. Treatment of secondary infections and supportive care may be necessary.