LSD is an livestock disease with devastating economic impact comparable to that caused by foot-and-mouth disease. It causes skin lesions that result in severe and permanent damage to hides. Lesions can also appear in the animal’s mouth, pharynx and respiratory tract, which affect its ability to eat, causing rapid deterioration and severe emaciation. An outbreak typically culls 10 percent of affected herds, but mortality rates can reach as high as 40 percent.
The disease was first observed in 1929 in Zambia (formerly North Rhodesia) and was initially considered to be the result of poisoning or a hypersensitivity to insect bites. Cases were described in South Africa between 1943 and 1945, and after eight million cattle fell ill to the virus, the disease’s infectious nature was recognized.
LSD next migrated to Kenya, Sudan and Somalia with the disease seemingly restricted to sub-Saharan countries until 1988 when it was clinically recognized in Egypt. Nearly two million cattle were rapidly vaccinated with a sheep pox vaccine resulting in low morbidity: approximately 1,449 animals died, or 2% of the Egyptian cattle population.
LSD was discovered in Israel a year later, and subsequently eliminated by the slaughter of all infected cattle. To date, no further clinical cases have occurred there.
According to a report by Dr. F. Glyn Davies, head of the ODA Virology Project in Kenya, LSD has proved impossible to eradicate in sub-Saharan Africa. Restrictions on cattle movements have not prevented its spread and LSD is liable to extend its range from northeastern Africa and Egypt into the highly receptive Tigris-Euphrates delta.
There is no specific antiviral treatment available for LSD-infected cattle, however two vaccines (for sheep and goat pox virus) have been used widely in Africa with documented success.
Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, issued a resolution based on reports by the World Organization for Animal Health stating that the ban will remain in place until the Jordanian epidemic is confirmed clear. The resolution explains that the move was taken as part of the ministry’s strategy to protect public health.