Lumpy skin disease: prevention and preparedness

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

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

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.

Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity