Cattle farmers, listen up! There are always different diseases and challenges that livestock farmers face. However, when it comes to lumpy skin disease (LSD) cattle are susceptible to this viral condition. Ticks or other insects that feed on blood, such as some types of flies, mosquitoes, and ticks, are the primary vectors for its transmission.
The question remains when the best time is to vaccinate?
Dr Koketso Makhubedu, a veterinarian at Moshawane Veterinary in Mafikeng, North West, and Khomosto Mashiloane, transformation facilitator at Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS), share some valuable insights as to why this season is the best to vaccine your cattle against lumpy skin disease (LSD).
It is crucial to address the various diseases and challenges that livestock management entails. Among these, lumpy skin disease (poses a significant threat to cattle. This viral condition is primarily transmitted through vectors like ticks and other blood-feeding insects, such as certain types of flies and mosquitoes.
Understanding lumpy skin disease
All breeds of cattle are susceptible to the disease, which is brought on by the pox virus. LSD is one of the most significant viral diseases in cattle, can afflict animals of all ages, and is typically characterised by signs including skin nodules and ulceration.
Mashiloane says, “These range in size from one to five centimetres and may number in the hundreds. They may appear anywhere on the skin, including the nose, udder, and vulva in cows, and the scrotum in bulls. Also, early signs of the disease may be confused with other diseases, such as lack of appetite, fever, and nasal discharge.”
He explains that an important factor in the spread of the disease is the presence of insects like flies and mosquitoes. These flying insects might quickly infect many animals across a large area. Additionally, transmission happens when communal drinking and feeding troughs are contaminated by an ill animal.
The importance of vaccination
According to both Mashilloane and Makhubedu, although only a small percentage of affected animals die, lumpy skin disease causes significant economic losses.
Emaciation brought on by a lack of hunger may result in economic losses and decreased milk production. Furthermore, bulls and cows are negatively affected in terms of fertility.
“Abortions may occur, as well as nodules in the throat and lungs, leading to respiratory problems such as breathing difficulties and pneumonia, potentially resulting in death on the affected cattle,” says Mashiloane.
The best time to vaccinate
Although outbreaks can happen during dry months as well, the disease is most prevalent during the wet summer and autumn months. Animals should receive vaccinations before the onset of the spring rains to provide enough protection.
This suggests that the best time to vaccinate your herd is right now. The lumpy skin vaccine is a modified live vaccine, so the animal can be immunised, once a year with a booster shot every year.
- First vaccine, immunity begins to build after 10 days,
- most animals should be completely protected within three weeks.
- However, the vaccination may not always provide complete protection to all animals.
Instructions for using vaccines:
Vaccines are sometimes sold in sets of two bottles, one carrying the sterile diluent and the other the vaccine’s active ingredient in the form of a pellet or powder.
“Transfer about 5ml of the sterile diluent to the bottle containing the freeze-dried vaccine using a sterile syringe. Mix until the powder is dissolved, then return the suspension to the remaining sterile diluent and thoroughly mix with the sterile syringe,” says Mashiloane.
According to Makhubedu, vaccinations are beneficial for your entire production, especially cost-wise.
Step-by-step guide using vaccines:
- Shake the bottle well before filling the syringe;
- Use the vaccine as soon as possible;
- Keep it cold and out of direct sunlight;
- Read the insert packaging; and
- Ensure that animals are given the correct dose according to the product instructions.
Advice to cattle farmers
Given that the vaccine has specific dosages and cannot be reused once mixed, it is advisable for farmers to carefully check the vaccine doses versus the number of cattle to be vaccinated before purchase.
“To mitigate the spread of this disease, it is recommended to provide ectoparasiticide containing active ingredients such as deltamethrin, cypermethrin, fluometuron, or alphamethrin to dip the animals. These substances effectively control insects like mosquitoes and flies,” says Mashiloane.
Meanwhile, Moshawane says it remains important to consult with your local veterinarian to get regular updates on the monthly reported diseases in South Africa. If you have not vaccinated your cattle for lumpy skin disease before, do so as soon as possible. There is no time to wait to get the best out of your herd.
“This is a notifiable disease, so by law and the state of [South Africa], you should let your vet know if you suspect you have lumpy skin,” she says.
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