HYDERABAD: Lack of access to vaccines for mosquito-bourne lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) in cattle would hit milk and meat production, with small-scale cattle farmers in Sindh likely to bear financial blows.
The virus has spread fear among small-scale cattle farmers, who have mostly been left to their own devices to manage the emerging threat. Farmers have adopted traditional methods like using mosquito nets and fumigation at makeshift farms to get rid of the vector responsible for infecting cattle with LSDV, reports showed.
Local veterinary centres, working under the provincial livestock department in towns, seem incapable of extending sufficient help to farmers via vaccination or appropriate precautionary guidelines, farmers said.
Dr Aijaz Kumbhar, provincial coordinator Dairy Beef Project, University of Veterinary and Animal Science (UVAS), Lahore said the disease was spreading in the entire country, hitting commercial as well as small cattle farms.
LSDV affects mostly cows, especially cross-breeds, available at commercial farms. He said initially scattered cases were being reported from different areas where officials were providing symptomatic treatment to animals with proper guidance. Some farmers were using a mixture of herbs as per tradition to save their animals, as vaccines were not available to control the spread immediately.
Dr Dodo Chandio, veterinary officer livestock, Badin said it was also found in desert parts, including Umerkot, Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Badin districts. Tharparkar district alone possesses more than six million animals, contributing milk and meat.
The veterinary officer said they were advising farmers to ensure cleanliness at cattle farms and fumigation to save the animals. “In case of symptoms, the farmers are advised to approach the veterinary centres,” he added.
The department published awareness posters for farmers, guiding them about the disease as well as protective measures. Dr Abdullah Sethar, registrar livestock breeding service authority (LBSA) Sindh, who also coordinates with leading farmers for awareness raising to promote indigenous breeds, said livestock department staff reached affected areas to help out farmers. “But, at the moment they do not have vaccines or medicines to provide for controlling this viral disease.”
He confirmed that reports were reaching from different areas, mainly commercial farms in Hyderabad and Karachi. Dr Irfan Mernas, a veterinary specialist, involved in imparting training to local farmers, said initially the disease was reported three months back at a commercial farm in Hyderabad and now it has hit larger cattle farms in Karachi and other parts of the province.
He said there has been no report of animal deaths from any area, but the farmers seem afraid of this issue and were taking actions to save their animals. Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), a leading growers’ body at its meeting expressed concerns over the spread of these diseases, and said, “In severe cases, it is fatal for livestock, and in mild cases it is likely to cause huge economic loss to farmers as it affects the milk and meat production severely.”
The meeting attracted leading growers, including Dr Bashir Nizamani, Dr Zulfiqar Yousfani, Mahmood Nawaz Shah and others, who discussed the emerging challenges to
agriculture and recommended the provincial government to take measures to save the economy.
As livestock made up 60 percent of agriculture sector, and mostly small and landless farmers were dependent on animals, any negative impact on the animals would affect marginalised populations in rural areas, they added.
SAB recommended immediate actions by identifying areas where this disease was prevalent, extensive fumigation programme against mosquitoes, which were the major vector of this disease in Sindh, and availability of vaccines to prevent further outbreak.
Dr Nazeer Hussain Kalhoro, director general (DG) livestock, in his video message, said since it has emerged for the first time, they did no not have vaccines or any suggested medicines to use.
Sindh government has approached the federal government to import required vaccines on an emergency basis to avoid loss. The disease spread through mosquitoes, he said, advising farmers to take precautions and use mosquito nets and conduct sprays at cattle farms.
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