Mark Hovary, International Animal Health Expert examines symptoms of lumpy skin disease with participants during the simulation exercise

On 1-3 November 2022, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), within the
framework of the project “Strengthening the regional preparedness against lumpy skin disease in Central Asia”, conducted a training and simulation exercise with the involvement of international experts in Dushanbe. The training is also organised in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to build the capacity of veterinary services responding to the lumpy skin disease (LSD) in the region.

LSD is a viral disease of domestic cattle that is mainly transmitted by blood-feeding insects. This transboundary disease is characterized by the appearance of skin lesions such as nodules and scabs. Although LSD was originally limited to Africa, in the past thirty years it progressively spread to new territories such as the Middle East, Türkiye, South Caucasus, South-East Europe and the Russian Federation. In 2015, LSD was reported in Central Asia.

The main aim of the training was to increase awareness of the disease and ensure better
knowledge of how to recognize, report and prevent it among all relevant stakeholders. The
subsequent simulation exercise focused on LSD response measures to increase the preparedness of Tajikistan against a possible LSD outbreak.

The training was attended by representatives of the Committee for Food Security under the
Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Veterinary Association of Tajikistan and the
Veterinary Institute under the Tajik Agrarian University.

Although LSD was not registered in Tajikistan, cases of the disease are already observed in
Central Asia. After the mass spread of LSD in South-East Europe, in 2016 the disease emerged in Kazakhstan. Recent outbreaks are reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The experts highlighted the importance of regional cooperation and coordination, as a crucial requirement for effective LSD control and precautions.

“Lumpy skin disease is an infectious disease of cattle that causes great losses in the livestock industry. Over the past ten years, it has rapidly spread and there are already recorded cases of the disease in the region. The LSD has affected more than 2 million cattle worldwide,” says Dr. Nadav Galon, an international LSD expert. “Given that more than Tajikistan owns 2 million heads of cattle, livestock plays an important role in the livelihood of the local population. The spread of the disease can have dramatic effects on rural livelihoods”.

Outbreaks of LSD cause substantial economic losses in affected countries. All the stakeholders in the cattle industry suffer from income losses, however, poor, rural, small-scale farmers are hit hardest. The disease heavily impacts cattle production, milk yields, and animal body condition.The losses are also caused by restrictions on cattle movements and trade.

Within the project’s framework, it is planned to conduct laboratory training and supplement the laboratory with diagnostic kits and reagents to ensure laboratory detection in case of disease suspicion. Based on the lessons learnt during the simulation exercise FAO will also finalize the draft contingency plan for LSD for the country to support emergency preparedness for this high-impact disease.