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Red meat industry response to lumpy skin disease

30 May 2022

With the outbreak of lumpy skin disease in Indonesia there are many activities taking place in Australia to combat its potential arrival. In terms of the red meat industry, there are several taskforces and forums meeting regularly and AMPC is a key member of these. 

AMPC is a member of the Taskforce on LSD (the taskforce) recently established by the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC). The taskforce meets weekly and includes membership from the relevant RDCs, the National Farmers’ Federation and Australian Dairy Farmers. 

The taskforce has developed a comprehensive action plan for LSD addressing the key elements of planning, response and recovery, which has been shared with the Australian Government. Four skills-based committees have been established by the taskforce covering overseas in-country support; trade and protocols; diagnostic capability and vaccine development; and domestic containment strategies. AMPC is supporting the taskforce and its committees.

We’ve pulled together some facts and you can read more about LSD in our Q&A below.

Background to Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) 

What is Lumpy Skin Disease?

Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is a highly infectious, generalised skin disease of cattle, buffalo and possibly some species of deer. The disease may appear quickly and be very severe. Lumps in the skin may ulcerate, go through the full thickness of the hide, and become infected with bacteria. Lesions may be found in other tissues at post-mortem. 

The rate of infection in cattle and buffalo is up to 30% and 1.6% respectively. The incubation period is usually 28 days but may be as short as 6 days. Mortality rates may be as high as 75% in very young and old animals, but for other ages are about 1-5%. Weight gain, milk production and fertility may be affected, and recovery may take up to 6 months. Bos taurus breeds, such as Angus, Hereford and dairy breeds, are more susceptible than Bos indicus breeds, such as Brahman.

Does LSD affect people?

LSD does not affect people.

How does it spread?

The LSD virus is spread by insects such as biting flies, mosquitoes and possibly ticks, and can also be spread via direct contact between infected and susceptible animals, or by virus carried by vehicles, people, stockfeed, other animals etc and passed to susceptible animals.

Where is LSD likely to come into Australia from? 

LSD has spread from Africa to some Middle Eastern countries. Over the past 10 years or so, cases have also been identified in several European and Asian countries, most recently, in Indonesia.

The most likely route for LSD introduction is considered to be via insects bringing the virus into the north. Australia does not import live cattle or genetic material from countries where LSD is endemic.

Do we have a plan to respond to an outbreak?

AUSVETPLAN provides a national approach, agreed between Australian governments and industries, to respond to an LSD outbreak. Key features of the plan are early detection, vaccination, establishment of quarantine zones, and restrictions on the movement of animals, animal products, people, other animals, equipment etc. 

Is there any vaccine against LSD?

African and Middle Eastern countries produce the only LSD vaccines currently available.  They are made using live LSD virus which is changed in the laboratory so that it won’t cause the disease (live ‘attenuated’ vaccines). Discussions are ongoing about vaccine importation and manufacture in Australia.

Who to call if you suspect an emergency disease at a processing establishment? 

Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 88

How does LSD affect Market Access? 

We continue to consider the market access impacts of an outbreak, working to reduce the impact of an LSD outbreak on processors. It is important for processors and exporters to consider their options if there is an outbreak, and it is likely that product on the water will not be accepted. 

What animal products carry the LSD virus?

The OIE advises that meat, casings, gelatine and collagen, tallow and hooves and horns should not be impacted by the LSD status of the exporting country. Heat treatment of meat meal from affected animals to a minimum internal temperature of 65 °C for at least 30 minutes will reduce the risk of LSD virus transmission. Hides and skins may be treated in several ways to reduce their risk of transmitting the virus. However, acceptance of any product is a matter for the importing country.