Thousands of cows in about 3,000 farms across Chattogram have been affected by lumpy skin disease (LSD), triggering panic among farmers.
The affected cows do not want to eat or drink anything and do not produce milk. Other symptoms of the disease are chronic debility, poor growth, infertility, abortion, and sometimes death.
Farmers fear that in near future their cattle might stop reproducing if enough vaccines are not supplied by the district livestock office.
LSD has affected 30,000 cows and calves out of the 10 lakh cows present in 1,600 registered and over a thousand unregistered farms since July, according to Chattogram District Livestock Office.
“First it hit Karnaphuli upazila, the second largest dairy hub of the country,” said Livestock Officer Dr Reazul Huq. “It has so far spread in 15 upazilas; Karnaphuli, Anwara, Sitakunda, Mirsarai, and Patiya are the worst affected ones.”
During a recent visit to different villages of Sitakunda, this correspondent found affected cows in almost every household.
LSD is an infectious disease in cattle caused by a virus of the family Poxviridae, also known as Neethling virus. “The cows suffer from fever, enlarged superficial lymph nodes and multiple nodules grow on their skin and mucous membranes,” said Dr Reazul.
About a hundred farmers, under the banner of Chattogram Dairy Farmers Association, demonstrated in front of the livestock office in the port city’s Khulshi area on Sunday demanding a greater supply of vaccines.
The vaccines necessary for preventing the disease was not widely available despite the outbreak. Especially, the farmers of rural areas did not have any access to them, they said.
Nayeem Mohammad Obaidullah, owner of Ashfaq Dairy Farm at Daulatpur village in Karnaphuli, said three cows in his farm were infected by LSD in July.
“At first, the cows caught fever and gradually pox-like lumps started appearing all over the body. They did not want to eat or drink anything. I contacted the livestock office as soon as I noticed the symptoms. Antihistamine is mainly used for the treatment. I was advised to give them immunity boosters and apply ice on the bumps,” he said.
Nurul Islam, another farmer of the same village, said that two cows and one calf were affected in his farm. “They suffered for 12 days. During those days, they could not produce any milk. The calf is yet to recover,” said Nurul.
Officials from the Department of Livestock and World Food Programme visited the farms in Karnaphuli on July 22 and collected samples, said Jalal Uddin Rokon, owner of Sufia Dairy Farm in the upazila.
“Most of the 500 farms here have been affected. In my farm, five cows and two calves were affected but they are fine now,” said Rokon, also the organising secretary at Karnaphuli Upazila Dairy Farm Association.
“The infection is carried by insects, mosquitoes in particular. When an insect bites an affected cow, it becomes the carrier and affects other cows,” said Dr Reazul.
About the farmers’ demonstration, he said that vaccines were available at the upazila livestock offices.
“We have supplied goat pox vaccine to farmers to prevent the disease. Once affected and recovered, a cow will never catch the disease again in its lifetime and so, most of the cows do not need any treatment,” he said.
The livestock officer could not confirm if any cow had died due to the disease in the district so far.
“Farmers should focus on cleanliness to prevent the disease,” he suggested.