YK Poudel

Bhutan has successfully vaccinated 280,581 bovine animals against lumpy skin disease (LSD) in all gewogs and thromdes, achieving a remarkable total coverage of 95.65 percent.

The vaccination campaign targeted various types of livestock, with 243,336 cattle, 36,460 yaks, 807 mithun, and 248 buffaloes receiving protection.

Among the dzongkhags, Trashigang led with 33,195 animals vaccinated, closely followed by Samtse with 32,413 animals. Gasa reported the lowest coverage, with 5,570 animals vaccinated.

Dr Palden Wangchuck, the senior veterinary officer of the National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH), said that aside from a few households in Gasa and Samtse, all dzongkhags have successfully completed the LSD vaccination programme in their respective areas.

Gasa and Samtse are expected to finalise the programmes soon. Due to logistical challenges and inaccessibility, migratory herds in some of the dzongkhags could not be covered.

“A data validation process is currently underway to ensure the accuracy of data related to LSD outbreaks, LSD vaccination, and Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI),” Dr Palden Wangchuck said.

The successful vaccination campaign is the result of collaborative efforts from livestock professionals in the field, with active support from various agencies, including local government and farmers.

“Protecting livestock is vital for the agricultural and economic stability of the country, as well as the well-being of the animals,” Dr Palden Wangchuck said.

The National Centre for Animal Health initiated this programme on August 19.

Over the past ten months, the LSD outbreak had a significant impact, affecting over 19,000 cattle and yaks, with a bovine death toll exceeding 2,600 animals.

According to the Integrated Livestock Census of 2022, Bhutan has a bovine livestock population of 293,614.

As an emergency measure, the government procured approximately 338,750 doses of lumpyvac (equivalent to 6,775 vials), worth Nu 20.5 million (20,534,495). The vaccine was imported from Türkiye-based Vetal Animal Health Products Inc. and arrived on August 17.

Lumpy skin disease is a highly contagious viral ailment that causes nodules and wounds on the skin, leading to severe health issues for cattle. Endemic to African and Middle Eastern countries, the disease quickly spread to Asian nations.

Bhutan confirmed its first outbreak in Samtse on October 5, 2020.