Lumpy Skin Disease

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Lump Skin 2022.png

Figure from NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment

Background                 

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a devastating viral disease of cattle and water buffalo. The disease is not present in Australia but rapidly spread through south Asia in 2021. In March 2022, Indonesia reported cases of lumpy skin disease on the island of Sumatra. For more information about lumpy skin disease go to awe.gov.au/lumpyskin

Lumpy skin disease is a national notifiable disease which means an animal showing suspect signs of the disease must be reported to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. This number will connect you with your state or territory’s department of primary industries or agriculture. 

[Lumpy skin disease lesions in a cow overseas – image Michael Patching]

Communities across Australia’s north, as well as beef, water buffalo, and dairy cattle industries need to be aware of signs of the disease in their animals. A lumpy skin disease incursion would cause severe direct economic losses to Australia’s livestock along with substantial trade impacts. “If Australia was no longer recognised as being free from lumpy skin disease this would have significant consequences for our beef, water buffalo, and dairy cattle industries, along with substantial trade impacts,” said Dr Mark Schipp, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

Infection with lumpy skin disease typically causes an acute disease with fever, depression, and characteristic skin nodules. There may also be a marked reduction in milk yield as well as abortion in pregnant animals.  The disease is highly infectious and is primarily spread through insect bites such as flies and mosquitoes, and possibly ticks. The disease can also be spread by fomites through such things as contaminated equipment and in some cases directly from animal to animal.

Dr Schipp stated that the disease is present in the region with its continuing spread through South Asia. “Because this disease is spread through biting insects, and we have a water buffalo population in Australia’s north, it’s absolutely critical that we remain vigilant against the disease and report any suspect cases as a matter of urgency to biosecurity authorities. “Once it’s in a herd it’s very difficult to eradicate,” he added. The department’s strict livestock importing protocols are designed to minimise the risk of exotic disease incursions, and returning livestock vessels are also managed by department’s biosecurity officers. Border requirements are in place for incoming air and sea passengers, imported cargo and mail items to ensure the biosecurity risks are managed at the border. Import conditions are reviewed when the level of risk changes.

Countering the threat of lumpy skin disease to Australia

Useful resources

Indonesian and Malaysian response to Lumpy Skin Disease

September 2023

  • An agreement was announced on the 9th of September 2023 between Indonesia and Australia to lift the suspension and restrictions on live cattle  and buffalo exports from the 7 Registered Establishments  across Northern Australia, with immediate effect.
  • On 5 September 2023, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) announced it had been formally advised by Malaysia that it has lifted the temporary suspension of live cattle and buffalo exports from Australia, effective immediately.
  • On 3 September 2023, Australia’s Acting Chief Veterinary Officer released a statement confirming that lumpy skin disease has never been detected in Australia and Australia remains free from the disease.
  • On 16 August 2023, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released a report on Australia’s freedom from Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD)
  • On 9 August 2023, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer announced that Malaysia has temporarily suspended live cattle and buffalo exports from Australia following the detection of LSD in Australian origin cattle in Indonesia. Departmental authorities are working with Malaysian officials to reassure them about Australia’s freedom from LSD and allow for the resumption of trade.
  • On 30 July 2023, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer made an announcement confirming the Indonesian Agriculture and Quarantine Agency had advised DAFF that a small number of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia have returned positive results for LSD
    viral fragments.
  • On 31 July 2023, the Minister for Agriculture published a statement on the issue.
  • Indonesia has paused exports from four Australian Registered Establishments (REs) pending further investigation into the origin of the infections in Indonesia. Live cattle exports to Indonesia are continuing and 28 REs are available for use by exporters wishing to trade. Work is underway to restore exports from the affected REs.
  • Meetings have been held between the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, State and Territory Ministers and respective Chief Veterinary Officers, as well as Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia and DAFF officers on the ground in Indonesia.

Actions to date by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment 

October  2023

Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) was reported in Indonesia on 2 March 2022. As of 18 October 2023, there have been a total of 68,558 LSD cases nationally in Indonesia. Cases have been reported in seven provinces in Sumatra and in five provinces in Java, and in the Bangka Belitung Islands. This data is reported on Indonesia’s national animal health information system website 

Australian support for Indonesia
  • The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment continues to engage with a range of Australian government stakeholders and international organisations to coordinate our support to Indonesia.
  • The Australian Government has supported Indonesia on its LSD control program through the provision of vaccines, technical expertise and capacity building support.
    • DAFF is funding a Quarantine Capacity Building Project with Indonesia and Timor-Leste, in collaboration with the Biosecurity Training Centre at Charles Sturt University.
    • DAFF has provided $1.2 million to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to deliver a technical support initiative in Indonesia. This will support the Indonesian government in the control of FMD and LSD and will be in place until 31 March 2024. 
    • DAFF has provided $1.1 million to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) for the Indonesia Biosecurity Support Project, to enhance biosecurity capacity in Indonesia’s commercial feedlot sector to curb the spread of FMD and LSD. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $2.08 million.
    • The CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) are working with the Indonesian MoA to provide technical laboratory support and supply of essential materials to underpin FMD and LSD testing.
Australian prevention and preparedness activities
Investment
  • Building on the $134 million targeted investment in biosecurity in the October 2022 Budget, the 2023-24 Budget includes over $1.03 billion in new biosecurity investments over the next four years, with over $260 million in new funding per year, ongoing and locked, from 2027-28. This funding increase is permanent.  For more information, see agriculture.gov.au/about/reporting/budget
National coordination 
  • On 16 October 2023, the third Progress Report on the National Lumpy Skin Disease Action Plan was published on the department’s website and covers activities undertaken between May and July 2023.
  • The Joint Interagency Taskforce: Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness concluded on 5 September 2022. The report can be accessed here, and includes 14 recommendations. DAFF is currently implementing these recommendations and the first quarterly report is available on DAFF’s website.
  • The third lead-up activity for Exercise Waterhole (Exercise Waterhole is a series of workshops and exercises being held in 2023 that will test and evaluate how wellprepared Australia’s animal health laboratory network is to respond to a large-scale emergency animal disease outbreak, such as LSD) was held on 4 October 2023 at the state animal health laboratory in Launceston, Tasmania.
  • On 11 October 2023 Minister Watt announced that DAFF has signed a contract with MSD Animal Health to ensure an initial supply of 300,000 doses of LSD vaccine will be available for Australia, Timor-Leste and PNG, if required. These doses will be held in a secure overseas location and will not be used prior to any detection of LSD.
Technical
  • On 15 March 2023, the department released a Quantitative risk assessment for the introduction of lumpy skin disease virus into Australia via non-regulated pathways: Final report, which has been published in Preventative Veterinary Medicine
  • On 26 June 2023, DAFF released an Animal Biosecurity Advice to notify of the release of a draft report that reviews the risk of LSD via importation of fresh (chilled and frozen) skeletal muscle meat derived from bovines. The report considers available scientific evidence along with relevant standards, processes, production methods, inspection, sampling and testing procedures.
  • The Australian Government has committed $9 million (of the $14 million immediate funding mentioned above) to support prevention and preparedness activities for LSD and FMD in Australia. This has included:
    • Additional frontline border resources and targeted detection, and surveillance activities.
    •  Deployment of detector dogs and handlers to additional airports.
    • A commitment of $4.33 million in grants to establish a North Australia Coordination Network across Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. 
Surveillance 
  • Australia has strong exotic animal disease surveillance systems in place and is free from many of the major diseases of livestock including LSD. All cattle being exported from Australia are inspected by a veterinarian to ensure they’re healthy. In addition to this, a DAFF veterinarian will undertake a final verification inspection of consignments of animals that are being exported. 
  • Veterinarians in northern Australia are being encouraged to take samples of skin lesions in cattle under the NABSNet 2023 Cattle Skin Survey. It is noted this project excludes suspect LSD cases or cases which could be consistent with LSD; these cases must be reported and investigated through normal EAD reporting mechanisms. Since the NABS Masterclass in March 2023, 28 skin samples have been received by state and territory governments, as reported in the NABSNet August newsletter. None of the sample’s pathology were consistent with what would be expected in LSD. The most common cause for the lesions was pathology related to insect bite hypersensitivity.
  • Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) officers continue to undertake feral animal surveys in northern Australia, with surveys across Cape York held in May and June and across the NT in July, August and September. No evidence of FMD, LSD or any other exotic animal disease has been found through these surveys.

Background                 

Lumpy skin disease is a devastating viral disease of cattle and water buffalo. The disease is not present in Australia but rapidly spread through south Asia in 2021. In March 2022, Indonesia reported cases of lumpy skin disease on the island of Sumatra.

Lumpy skin disease is national notifiable disease which means an animal showing suspect signs of the disease must be reported to a veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888. This number will connect you with your state or territory’s department of primary industries or agriculture. 

For more information about lumpy skin disease go to awe.gov.au/lumpyskin

Communities across Australia’s north, as well as beef, water buffalo, and dairy cattle industries need to be aware of signs of the disease in their animals. Dr Mark Schipp, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer warns that a lumpy skin disease incursion would cause severe direct economic losses to Australia’s livestock along with substantial trade impacts. “If Australia was no longer recognised as being free from lumpy skin disease this would have significant consequences for our beef, water buffalo, and dairy cattle industries, along with substantial trade impacts,” Dr Schipp said. Infection with lumpy skin disease typically causes an acute disease with fever, depression, and characteristic skin nodules. There may also be a marked reduction in milk yield as well as abortion in pregnant animals.  The disease is highly infectious and is primarily spread through insect bites such as flies and mosquitoes, and possibly ticks. The disease can also be spread by fomites through such things as contaminated equipment and in some cases directly from animal to animal. Dr Schipp stated that the disease is present in the region with its continuing spread through South Asia.“Because this disease is spread through biting insects, and we have a water buffalo population in Australia’s north, it’s absolutely critical that we remain vigilant against the disease and report any suspect cases as a matter of urgency to biosecurity authorities. “Once it’s in a herd it’s very difficult to eradicate,” he added. The department’s strict livestock importing protocols are designed to minimise the risk of exotic disease incursions, and returning livestock vessels are also managed by department’s biosecurity officers. Border requirements are in place for incoming air and sea passengers, imported cargo and mail items to ensure the biosecurity risks are managed at the border. Import conditions are reviewed when the level of risk changes.