As the lumpy skin disease virus dangerous to cattle threatens to move further into Europe from the Balkans, a three-day regional workshop is set to be hosted in Budapest in March to discuss the situation and possible prevention methods, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal today by the UNʼs Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
At the workshop experts from across Europe and Central Asia will review and revise current strategies, updating their knowledge of tools and approaches for preventing, monitoring and coping with the disease. Topics to be covered include risk communication and awareness, vaccination plans, and proper laboratory testing methods.
Since entering Turkey in 2013, followed by Russia and Greece more recently, the virus has spread throughout the Balkans and now threatens to move further into Europe. In most cases the lumpy skin disease virus is transmitted by insects. It gets its name from the characteristic nodules that appear beneath the skin of infected animals.
The disease can mean economic losses due to temporary declines in milk production, lower market weights, sterility in bulls, and secondary infections that can even lead to the animals’ death. The skin nodules also reduce the value of hides. Countries may also fear trade restrictions, should the virus enter their national territory.
“This is the first time in history that this virus has emerged in Europe,” said Andriy Rozstalnyy, FAO animal production and health officer. “So, as step zero, we should collect and analyze data on the spread of the virus and its financial consequences. Only after an assessment of the epidemiological situation can we move further to identify possible ways of handling it.”
A cost-benefit analysis will be used to compare outbreak control options. Next, a field manual will be produced specifically for the Eurasian continent – an important practical output from one of the FAO projects, financed by the government of Hungary.
“We are still in time now, before spring – when the awakening mosquitoes, flies and other insect vectors of lumpy skin disease increase the risk of spreading,” stressed Rozstalnyy.