Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a highly contagious viral disease of cattle and buffalo that causes relatively low mortality. It does not affect humans. The disease can result in animal welfare issues and significant production losses.
Clinical signs may vary widely between individuals within the same herd but typically include:
- ocular and nasal discharge and hypersalivation (usually observed first)
- a sudden onset of pyrexia, which may exceed 41°C
- sharp drop in milk yield
- highly characteristic, nodular skin lesions of typically 0.5–5 cm in diameter, particularly on the head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia and perineum within 48 hours of onset of pyrexia. These nodules are circumscribed, firm, round and raised, and involve the skin, subcutaneous tissue and sometimes even the underlying muscles
- centres of large nodules may become necrotic and eventually fibrotic and persist for several months
- enlarged superficial lymph nodes
- vesicles, erosions and ulcers may develop in the mucous membranes of the mouth and alimentary tract, and in the trachea and lungs
- acute respiratory distress, and in more severe cases, secondary pneumonia, which can be fatal
- oedema of the limbs, brisket and genitals may occur
- abortion, intrauterine infections and temporary sterility of bulls and cows may also occur.
Aside from skin nodules and eye and nasal discharges, affected animal carcasses may appear hyperaemic or have internal lesions throughout the digestive and respiratory tracts. These can appear on almost any organ. Pneumonia can also commonly occur as a secondary infection.
LSD can look similar to many endemic diseases:
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LSD is a nationally notifiable animal disease which means you must report suspect animals immediately to your state or territory department of primary industries or agriculture. You can do this by phoning the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888.
Sampling and diagnostic testing
You should seek advice from government veterinary authorities such as through the Emergency Animal Disease hotline (1800 675 888) before conducting a disease investigation. They will be able to advise you on the appropriate sample types, sample packaging, transport procedures and the biosecurity measures to put in place during your disease investigation.
General information on sampling, diagnostic testing, and sample transport can be found in Emergency Animal Diseases: a field guide for Australian veterinarians.