Lumpy skin disease: prevention and preparedness

Page last updated: Wednesday, 13 July 2022 - 12:47pm

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a viral disease that affects all breeds of cattle and buffalo. It has never occurred in Australia but is an emerging threat, as it continues to spread through Asia and countries neighbouring Australia. It is primarily transmitted by biting insects and may occur directly from animal to animal, and is spread by the movement of cattle and buffalo and also potentially by contaminated equipment or infected hides. It does not have a high death rate but can cause severe impacts as outlined below.

What are the signs of LSD?

Affected cattle and buffalo develop a fever of up to 41.5oC and may also have watery eyes, nasal discharge and excess salivation (drooling).

Within 1–2 days, raised nodules up to 50mm in diameter commonly appear around the head, neck, limbs and genitals and may cover the entire body. Scabs form on these nodules and may fall off, leaving large holes in the hide that can become infected.

The brisket and legs may appear swollen and cattle may look lame or be very reluctant to move.

Note: Bos indicus (northern) breeds may be less severely affected and may only show subtle signs which can be difficult to identify.

Can humans get LSD?

No, the virus only infects cattle (all breeds) and water buffalo. It will not infect sheep or goats.

What is the impact?

LSD is a significant biosecurity threat to the Australian cattle and buffalo industries. An incursion and outbreak will result in an overnight loss of international export markets. The disease can lead to significant animal health and welfare consequences and production losses due to loss of condition, damaged hides and reduced reproductive rates, impacting both international and domestic agricultural markets if introduced to Australia.

Why should I report LSD signs?

The sooner LSD is recognised and reported, the sooner its spread can be controlled.

Minimising the spread of the disease through early detection and reporting will reduce the devastating economic and social costs of an outbreak to livestock producers, the livestock and regional industries and the national economy.

If you see any of the signs of LSD, call your veterinarian, your Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) veterinarian, or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.

Where is LSD found?

LSD first occurred in Africa. From the late 1980s it was detected in parts of the Middle East, from 2012 in Europe, and from 2019 in mainland South-East Asia, gradually moving east. In March 2022, it was detected in Singapore and Indonesia. LSD has never been recorded in Australia, but its presence in near neighbours and globalisation has increased the likelihood of introduction.

How would LSD enter Australia?

There are a number of different pathways for the entry of LSD into Australia.

Entry into Northern Australia may be via insects carried across from Indonesia via strong winds during monsoonal weather. Long distance spread of biting insects, such as Culicoides, (a type of biting midge) from Indonesia to Australia has been documented. 

Other entry pathways into Australia, include insects entering on returning vessels. Strict insect control protocols are implemented on returning vessels to ensure effective disinfestation and reduce the likelihood of this entry pathway.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has heightened border controls to reduce the likelihood of introduction of any exotic disease via travellers returning from high-risk destinations. This includes enhanced screening of incoming passengers and personal luggage.

How could LSD be spread between herds within Australia?

The two main methods of spread of the LSD virus in the cattle population are through movement of infected animals and via infected biting arthropods (such as ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes).

The movement of contaminated equipment from infected properties is also a risk. Disease transmission by direct contact between animals can occur. Movement of contaminated vehicles, feed and water, and re-use of equipment such as hypodermic needles will all be important methods of spread within Australia if LSD is introduced. Infected bulls can excrete the virus in semen and experimental transmission has been demonstrated.

All livestock owners should have good biosecurity measures in place on their property, including accurate records of livestock movement. To access free farm biosecurity advice and resources visit

What is being done to prevent LSD entry?

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has strict import conditions on products of animal origin and high-risk items entering Australia through traveller, mail, and cargo pathways. The disease status of our trading partners are regularly monitored to ensure the risk of disease entry is managed.

Australia is actively engaging with Indonesia to provide assistance in their efforts to control LSD.

What would happen if LSD entered Australia?

Australian commonwealth and state and territory governments and peak industry bodies are signatories to the national Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA). This is a contractual arrangement between Australia’s governments and industry groups to collectively reduce the risk of disease incursions and manage a response if an outbreak occurs.

The EADRA commits all signatories, including industry, to preparedness and early detection activities, including good on-property biosecurity, reporting any suspicion of disease, and maintaining good traceability. All parties that are signatories to the EADRA commit to the participation in an EAD response and to contribute to funding the eligible costs of responding to an EAD by which they are affected.

Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) contains the nationally agreed approach for the response to an outbreak of LSD in Australia. Government and industry signatories to the EADRA have agreed to a detailed contingency plan for responding to the outbreak of any of the major exotic animal diseases, including LSD. For full details see AUSVETPLAN - Disease Strategies.

The national objective is to eradicate an incursion of LSD as quickly as possible. Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) is the nationally agreed approach to how the Governments and industry would control and eradicate an outbreak. Depending on the location and extent of the outbreak, eradication measures would include movement restrictions, vaccination, humane destruction of infected animals, disinfection of infected properties and a vector control program.

Further information on national response frameworks can be found at Animal Health Australia and National pest & disease outbreaks -

Are there vaccines available?

While there are vaccines available overseas, there are none currently available for use in Australia. Australian governments and industry are currently undertaking activity to identify and obtain regulatory approval of an appropriate vaccine to have available if an incursion occurs.

It is not intended to vaccinate animals before an LSD incursion. If Australia vaccinated animals against LSD prior to an incursion, then Australia would lose its LSD disease-free status, in accordance with World organisation for Animal Health standards, which would negatively affect international export market access.

How to protect your livestock from LSD?

Livestock producers must be alert for signs of disease in their animals. If animals are showing signs of disease that are consistent with LSD, this needs to be reported as a matter of urgency to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 or to your local veterinarian.

To reduce the risk of any emergency animal diseases occurring in your animals:

  • Isolate new animals for 7–10 days.
  • Keep fences secure to ensure stray animals do not enter.
  • Have an allocated area away from livestock where contractors/farm visitors park vehicles.

Register your property and meet livestock identification and movement requirements

Western Australia has a mandatory livestock ownership, identification and movement system.

If an outbreak occurred, traceability of infected or exposed livestock would be critical for Australia to control and eradicate the disease.

Livestock owners should visit our Livestock ownership, identification and movement in Western Australia webpage to learn more about how to meet these requirements.

Learn more about LSD

For more information about the signs of LSD or LSD prevention, contact your local DPIRD veterinarian. 

Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) contains the nationally agreed approach for the response to an outbreak of LSD in Australia.

Also refer to the Emergency Animal Diseases Hub - FMD and lumpy skin diseases, which provides further information and useful resources. 

Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity