Categories: How to Livestock

What is lumpy-skin disease?

Lumpy-skin disease (LSD) is a viral disease of cattle typically characterised by nodules or lumps on the skin.

All cattle breeds in South Africa can be affected and LSD usually occurs during the wet summer and autumn months, when flies are in abundance.

It’s a notifiable disease, which means the state vet must be informed, as there are specific control schemes.

READ Animal health: what German vets can teach us

LSD causes emaciation (loss of body condition because of unwillingness to eat); temporary or permanent loss of milk production; lowered or complete loss of fertility in bulls and cows; abortion; and permanent damage to hides.

Up to 45% of a herd can get infected and the mortality rate may reach 10%. LSD can also spread through the saliva of infected animals when using the same drinking trough.


Signs of LSD include the following:

  • Skin nodules and ulcers: These range from 0,5cm to 5cm in size and can vary from a few to hundreds. They occur anywhere on the skin, including the nose, udder and vulva in cows, and the scrotum in bulls;
  • Legs become swollen and develop sores;
  • Enlarged lymph nodes;
    Pneumonia/coughing as a result of infection of the respiratory tract (the windpipe and lungs);
  • Nasal discharge;
  • Infertile cows and infertile bulls (due to infection of the testes);
  • Mastitis, reducing milk production;
  • Fever;
  • Emaciation;
  • Excessive salivation.

Confirmation from a vet
A basic diagnosis can be made from the presence of the lesions on the skin and in the mouth. In the case of long-haired animals, feel for the nodules on the skin, or wet the hair to see the nodules more easily.

Diagnosis can only be confirmed through a vet, who will have skin samples tested at a lab. Some other diseases cause similar signs in cattle.

If you suspect LSD in your herd, inform the state vet so that the disease can be confirmed.

He will then help you to control the disease. If animals have been protected, you will suffer no production or financial losses due to the ill effects of the disease.

Prevention through vaccination
The attenuated Neethling strain vaccine contains weakened LSD virus. When this vaccine is administered, the animal will develop protective antibodies (white blood cells) which resist the actual virus.

Vaccinate all cattle once a year, preferably before the summer rain to ensure good protection.

Animals that have had the disease and have recovered are immune and do not have to be vaccinated.

Calves under six months old born to cows that have been vaccinated or have had the disease, do not need to be vaccinated. However, when they are six months old, they have to be vaccinated annually.

There may be a swelling at the site where the injection is given, and a temporary drop in milk production, but the swelling will disappear after a few weeks with a return to normal milk production.

Read the instructions on the vaccine label. If you have any questions or need assistance with vaccination, contact your state veterinarian or animal health technician.

Source: Lindsay Thomas. ‘Lumpy-skin disease: a disease of socio-economic importance’, Directorate Communication Services in co-operation with ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute

Recent Posts

Cattle branding: how to get it right every time

If branding is carried out poorly, it can lead to infection, muscle damage, and brands that are difficult to read.…

6 hours ago

Learning from Israel’s water woes

During a recent tour to farms and the AgriTech Israel exhibition in Israel, it was revealed that despite the large…

1 day ago

Using insects as animal feed

Animal feed produced from insects can deliver more tons per hectare than feed from traditional crops like soya, says an…

2 days ago

Farmers urged to participate in the Producer/Farmer Register

Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Senzeni Zokwana, recently announced the establishment of the Producer/Farmer Register…

4 days ago

Understand the power and pitfalls of trust

Trust is a potent force for good. Break it, and you and your business could suffer severe consequences.

4 days ago

DAFF’s 1 000 overpaid employees

The high cost of wages for workers in the public service is one of the major uncomfortable truths that Finance…

5 days ago

This website uses cookies.