Lumpy skin disease is a disease of cattle. It occurs in Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, and is emerging in eastern Europe. The disease is caused by lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), a member of the poxvirus family of viruses.
The disease: LSD is characterised by skin nodules all over the body of the animal. The appearance of the nodules is often accompanied by a fever, a sudden drop in milk production, reduced body condition and depression. Once it has entered a new region the virus has the potential to achieve endemic status rapidly, such as in Turkey in 2013-2014. Control measures to prevent the spread of LSD in EU member states are based on Council Directive 92/119/EEC mandating total stamping out and movement restrictions, supplemented with the Commission Implementing Decisions allowing vaccination. The economic cost of these control measures, in addition to trade restrictions, are many millions of euros.
Priority requirements for LSD control: The DEFEND consortium will address key knowledge gaps in our understanding of LSD and apply this new knowledge to deliver better tools for prevention and control of LSD. LSD is a neglected disease with a minimal research base on which to design disease control programmes. This limitation will be addressed in this project by carrying out fundamental research programmes, integrating them with current work in partners’ laboratories, and working together with leading industry partners (IDvet and Zoetis) to apply the knowledge gained to develop better tools for disease control and eradication. Specifically, WP4 and 5 will address key gaps in our understanding of the epidemiology of LSD in relation to transmission risk factors. The findings from these studies will be integrated into WP1, a risk assessment framework, to facilitate identification of factors associated with introduction and spread of LSD. WP8 will characterise the immune response to LSDV, and use this knowledge to develop new diagnostic tests, optimise current strategies for vaccination (WP9), and develop a next generation LSD vaccine (WP11). Host resistance to LSD will be studied in a unique collaboration between a leading quantitative genetics research team and partners from countries with LSD outbreaks (WP10).