Dr. Kebba Daffeh, Gambian animal rights activist and former director of the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), has called for calm after reports of the outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in cattle in the country.
The veterinary doctor spoke to TAT following growing unease among the Gambian populace and speculation on social media platforms that it is killing cattle across the country.
His comments also come amidst talk in certain quarters that LSD is spreading to humans in the country.
“We know there is an outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease in cattle in The Gambia. It’s a very extensive outbreak, and almost all the country’s regions are affected,” Dr. Daffeh confirmed.
According to the veterinarian, LSD is a viral disease of cattle that is “species-specific, meaning it affects only cattle. The disease is not zoonotic; it does not affect humans. For example, meat or milk from infested cattle will not affect humans.”
The virus is transmitted through insect vectors to cattle. it can also spread through direct contact among cattle, he went on.
Even though the disease cannot transfer from cattle to humans through consuming cattle meat and milk, it is not advisable to eat the meat from sick animals.
“Scientifically, it has been proven that the most imminent way for the disease to transfer is through insect vectors that play roles in the transmission of Lumpy Skin Disease.”
The former director of veterinary services advised cattle owners in the country to control and restrict the movement of their animals and prevent them from interacting with unaffected cattle.
Vaccination and restricting the movement of the affected cattle is the surest way of containing the spread of the disease, Dr. Daffeh continued, whilst dismissing rumors linking the disease to people affected by another pox disease.
He reiterated that LSD cannot affect humans because it is species-specific and can only affect cattle.
According to medical sources, “LSD is an infectious viral disease in cattle transmitted by arthropod vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. It is caused by the Poxviridae family virus characterized by fever, multiple nodules on the skin, and enlarged superficial lymph nodes, with mortality ranging from one to three percent.”
The disease, however, causes substantial economic losses in the form of a drop in milk production, reduced skin quality, and restriction of trade and movement. But LSD cannot transmit from cattle to humans.