Virus kills cattle in India

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Virus kills 100000 cattle in India

A viral disease has killed nearly 100,000 cows and buffaloes in
India and sickened over 2 million more.
The outbreak has triggered devastating income losses for cattle
farmers since the disease not only results in deaths but can also
lead to decreased milk production, emaciated animals, and birth
issues (https://bit.ly/3rzvYGw).
The disease, called lumpy skin disease, is spread by insects that
drink blood like mosquitoes and ticks. Infected cows and buffaloes
get fevers and develop lumps on their skin.
Farmers have experienced severe losses from extreme weather events
over the past year: a record-shattering heat wave in India reduced
wheat yields in April, insufficient rainfall in eastern states like
Jharkhand state shriveled parched winter crops such as pulses, and
an unusually intense September rainfall has damaged rice in the
And now, the virus has spread to at least 15 states with the number
of cow and buffalo deaths nearly doubling in three weeks, the Press
Trust of India news agency reported.
The contagion spreading among cattle is having a disproportionate
impact on small farmers, many of whom have insulated themselves
from the shocks of climate change by rearing cattle for milk, said
Devinder Sharma, an agriculture policy expert in northern Chandigarh
"It's a serious, serious issue and this (disease) … has been growing
since the last couple of years," he said, adding that the government
figures were likely an undercount of the actual death toll from the
The first cases in South Asia were detected in 2019, and it has since
spread to India, China, and Nepal. It was first recorded in Zambia
in 1929 and has extended through Africa and more recently to parts
of Europe.
Dairy is among the largest agricultural commodities in India,
employing 80 million people and contributing to 5% of its economy,
per federal data. It's the world's largest milk producer, making up
more than a fifth of global production - but exports are only
a fraction of this.
To try and protect the industry, authorities are vaccinating healthy
cows using a shot designed for a similar disease while efforts are
underway to develop a more effective vaccine.
India's vast hinterland is now punctuated by mass graves of cows. In
 some places, the carcasses rot in the open and the pained cries of
sick animals are resound in villages. Western Rajasthan state has
seen the worst impact: 60,000 cattle dead and nearly 1.4 million
"The disease is contagious. It's now shifting from the west to the
east," warned Narendra Mohan Singh, a director at Rajasthan state's
Animal Husbandry Department.
In bordering Uttar Pradesh state, India's most populous, the trade
and movement of cattle with neighboring states has been curbed. But
farmers like Amarnath Sharma in Milkipur village say they have been
left in the dark. Three of his five cows are sick and, while he has
heard about the viral disease, he doesn't know how to help his
"If these animals don't get treatment, they'll die," he said.
Farmers in affected states, like the Himalayan Himachal Pradesh, have
also urged the government for financial aid.
Meanwhile, a study of the lumpy skin disease virus' genetic makeup
found that it was very different from previous versions, said Vinod
Scaria, a scientist at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative
Biology in New Delhi.
Viruses evolve all the time and not all these changes are harmful to
health. But Scaria, who is one of the study's authors, said it
exposed the need for continuous monitoring and tracking of diseases
since it wasn't clear how the virus evolved in the past two years.
"If you had continuous surveillance, you would be prepared," he said.