Bhanu P Lohumi
Shimla, August 30
Shortage of veterinarians and pharmacists and antibiotics and unavailability of vehicles for field staff are hampering the treatment of cattle with Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in Himachal. So far, 1,157 animals have died from the disease while 36,760 animals are still sick. There are currently 24,292 active LSD cases.
Vaccination and treatment teams are separate. However, the shortage of field staff, including veterinarians (doctors), pharmacists and aides, and the unavailability of vehicles are major impediments. Veterinarians tend to sick livestock up to 20 km away and visit large numbers of animals, says Kuldeep Tanwar, president of Himachal Kisan Sabha. Currently, approximately 120 veterinarian positions and 516 pharmacists are vacant.
He says the Kisan Sabha appreciates the work of veterinarians, who use their own resources to reach sick animals. He adds that vet students will be roped up against payment of a fee to vaccinate sick cattle and that a mechanism for pooling vehicles from various departments for vets will be put in place.
The non-availability of antibiotics is another problem. Multiple drugs and injections are needed to treat animals suffering from LSD and antibiotics are out of stock in Shimla, said Devi Saran, a resident of Shadi village in Junga region. She adds, “I placed an order for antibiotics in Chandigarh, but not all farmers are able to get them from outside Himachal.”
Dairy farmers dependent on the sale of milk are the most affected, as people avoid them thinking that LSD can be infectious. The government has announced compensation, but confusion reigns over the guidelines and rules for obtaining compensation, says a farmer.
The disease mainly affects the legs of cattle, which swell, followed by a high fever. Soft nodules resembling blisters appear all over the body and gradually the cattle suffer from runny noses and eyes, reducing their appetite and production. The disease is transmitted rapidly among cattle by flies, mosquitoes and ticks from 3 km to 5 km away. Exotic and high-breed animals are more prone to disease, experts say.
Pradeep Sharma, Livestock Manager, says 143 pharmacists have been appointed and another 364 pharmacists and 60 veterinarians will be appointed within a fortnight. Up to 56 more staff will be recruited through the state’s subordinate selection committee, and 44 mobile ambulance units for 44 blocks will soon be procured, he added.
The first case of LSD was reported in Cheali village in the Malyana panchayat of Shimla on June 22.
The animal was brought from Punjab. Apart from Shimla, the disease has spread to Solan, Sirmaur, Una, Kangra, Bilaspur, Mandi, Hamirpur and Chamba districts.
# Lumpy skin disease