Empowering Communities: Tackling Lumpy Skin Disease at the Grassroots Level
Fig 1: Cattle Suffering from Lumpy Skin Disease (Image source: Internet)

The project “Strengthening the Capacity of Smallholder Farmers for Resilient Livelihood (SAKSHAM)” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland through FELM Nepal has been implemented by Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD) with the aim to improve the livelihoods and well-being of marginal and climate vulnerable families through economic and climate resilience. The project seeks to enhance food security, diversify nutrition sources, create income opportunities for target communities, and strengthen climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in two districts. Recently, in August and September 2023, the project conducted an awareness campaign on Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in three working palikas: Jorayal Rural Municipality, Laljhadi Rural Municipality, and Kanchanpur Municipality. The goal was to raise awareness and assist the community in mitigating losses caused by LSD infection and prevent its further spread in the communities.

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects cattle and buffaloes. It is caused by Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) belonging to Poxviridae family and genus Capripoxvirus. LSD is characterised by fever, nodules on the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs, emaciation, enlarged lymph nodes, oedema of the skin, decreased milk and meat production, lowered fertility and occasionally, death. LSD is extremely contagious within a herd because it is transmitted by direct contact between sick and uninfected animals or through bodily fluids. Additionally, the disease spreads through contaminated sheds, equipments, livestock feed and mechanically via vectors like biting flies, which accelerates its rapid spread. The initial occurrence of LSD in Nepal was noted in Morang District in June 2020, with official confirmation of the outbreak taking place on July 27th, 2020. Since then, the disease has progressively spread to 77 districts across Nepal. According to the most recent information provided by the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) Nepal, as of September, 2023, there have been a reported total of 1,088,000 cases of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in cattle and buffaloes, resulting in 50,826 fatalities. The Sudurpaschim Province has been hit hardest, experiencing a total infection count of 309,964. LSD is still developing in many parts of the world, and there isn’t a specific cure for it yet. However, vaccination continues to be a very successful method of disease prevention. In addition, Community-level awareness campaigns are essential for preventing and controlling the spread of LSD. These campaigns can help to educate livestock owners and other stakeholders about the disease, its symptoms, and ways to prevent its further spread.

Fig 2: Field staff Surendra Rokaya orienting the farmers on LSD in Jorayal Rural Municipality, Doti
Fig 3: Climate Champion Gita Bhatta Khatri orienting the farmers on LSD in Jorayal Rural Municipality, Dotii

SAKSHAM, a project committed to improve the livelihoods of small holder farmers in the community, recently organized a targeted awareness program/campaign on Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) across 156 farmer groups in the Doti (Mid hills) and Kanchapur (Terai) districts. The action plan regarding the conduction of awareness event was developed and the event was organized accordingly. The Project team drafted and designed all the materials required for the event.This impactful campaign involved mobilizing dedicated teams, including Local Climate Champions, Local Resource Persons, Village Animal Health Workers (VAHWs), and field staff, who underwent a comprehensive day-long training conducted by the Project Programme Officers. Through this instruction, they gained a thorough understanding of LSD, including its historical background, symptoms, and effective control measures. Equipped with this knowledge and information, 6 field workers, 4 VAHWs, 12 LRPs, and 9 Climate Champions conducted engaging sessions lasting 2-3 hours each, along with poster presentations on LSD developed by the project team, in their local communities. Following the orientation sessions, the trainers were given the important task of collecting specified data of the livestock in the provided format. The project field staffs guided and assisted the other trainers in their initial sessions to ensure the quality of the session and the data collection. Likewise, the trainers shared important information with their communities with passion, taking the time to address farmers’ queries and soothe their worries. For many farmers, this was an exceptional event in their rural communities, a unique opportunity to learn how their simple actions might have a significant impact on preventing LSD from worsening as well as reducing its effects.

Fig 4: Submission of letter regarding statistics of Lumpy Skin Disease and its status in the project sites of Doti to Chairperson (Durga Dutta Ojha) of Jorayal Rural Municipality (Right)

Upon the completion of the awareness campaign, a comprehensive analysis of the data collected from the two districts was undertaken. The survey revealed a total population of 5,791 cattle and buffaloes within the 156 farmer groups. Among these animals, 1,737 had been affected by LSD up to that point, resulting in the unfortunate loss of 508 animals to the disease. However, a total no of 1,124 animals successfully recovered from the illness, while 228 animals are still battling with the infection. Notably, among the three working palikas, Jorayal Rural Municipality reported the highest number of fatalities (486) and active LSD cases (118) up to the present date. The findings of the data, were finally disaggregated on the basis of ward no. and submitted to the respective municipal head and respective municipal livestock service section. The data of each working municipal areas are summarized below in the tabular form (click to enlarge).

Table 1: Summary of statistical data submitted to each Municipal Office and respective Livestock Development Section. 

It will be useful to the livestock service section of the municipalities to make their action plan in those communities for controlling the spread of LSD. The respective Livestock Service section of these municipalities also have been involved in making the community aware about LSD and have been providing symptomatic treatment of the disease. Apart from the data provided, the Municipal Livestock Service Section is also seeking the data from other groups of the communities. The hardest hit Jorayal RM has demanded the vaccine against LSD with the Provincial Government for the prevention of this disease in the community, however, the vaccine has not been available at Jorayal RM till now. The farmers have been relying on the treatment of the symptomatic diseases and local level isolation for controlling the further spread of the disease. To conclude, these findings underscore the urgency and importance of continued efforts of symptomatic treatment of infected animals along with the vaccination of healthy animals to combat this disease and protect the region’s livestock.