Healthcare systems for livestock should be accessible, affordable and effective; ethnoveterinary medicine fulfils this criteria
Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), host-specific vector-borne viral (pox) disease of domestic cattle and Asian water buffalo, has been ravaging cattle populations throughout India after it was reported for the first time in India (Odisha) at the end of 2019.
There is no specific antibiotic chemotherapy for pox viral diseases such as LSD. Hence, indiscriminate use of higher version of antibiotics as a first line of intervention in LSD is of questionable value.
In fact, it might jeopardise and interfere with the innate immunity cascade of the individual animal in fighting the viral infection which is otherwise a self-limiting disease.
Globally, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a major threat to human / animal health. AMR undermines the safety of our food and environment.
The aim of pharmaceutics should not be a battle against microbes. Rather, an approach for peaceful co-existence of plant, animal and microbes in the environment is needed as the current data on microbiota research suggests that microbes apparently rule the world.
This is where ethnoveterinary medicine (EVM) can make a difference.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) categorises LSD as a notifiable disease. The disease was restricted to sub-Saharan Africa for a long time. It later invaded west Asia and Turkey. It has been in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Russian Federation since 2015.
Read Down To Earth's coverage of the Lumpy Skin Disease outbreak in India
LSD transmission may occur through vectors (flies / mosquitoes), contact with contaminated feed or water, natural mating or artificial insemination. The LSD virus is a stable one and survives well in extremely cold and dry environments within the pH range 6.3-8.3. Infected animals shed scabs from skin lesions. Inside the scabs, the virus may remain infectious for several months.
Limiting vector breeding sites like stagnant water bodies and slurry / manure is an affordable and environmentally friendly way of reducing the number of vectors around cattle.
Bio security measures suffer as farming activities are scattered over a large area. Also, it is difficult to control the movement of animals, particularly where cattle are free-roaming or kept in open grazing.
LSD is characterised by skin nodules, fever, mastitis, swelling of peripheral lymph nodes, loss of appetite, abortion, infertility, increased nasal discharge and watery eyes. Generally, cutaneous nodules (two-five centimetres in diameter) are noticed.
Of late, lesions are not necessarily widespread and appear localised. Swelling and oedema particularly on the eyelids, head, neck, shoulder, knee, udder, genitalia and perineum appear within 48 hours of the onset of febrile reaction.
Erosions, ulcers may develop in the mouth and alimentary tract and in the trachea and lungs. Young calves suffer much if infected. Occasionally, mortality occurs due to other complications .Permanent infertility may occur among infected cows and bulls.
The era of considering EVM with suspicion is long gone. The role of EVM in livestock development for the present and in the future is beyond dispute. Globally, scientists are elucidating on the effects and action mechanism of local and indigenous communities’ phytomedicines.
The under mentioned EVM formulations are recommended for the management of LSD as a first line of disease management. Since 2020, lakhs of animals have been protected by using the following EVM herbal recipes without much loss of production (Ethnoveterinary formulations at www.nddb.coop):
Ingredients : Betel leaves-10 # + black pepper - 10 gm + salt - 10gm
Blend this to form a paste and mix with jaggery.
Day 1 - One dose every three hours
Day 2 onwards for 2 weeks - Three doses daily
Ingredients: Garlic - 2 pearls + coriander seeds - 10 gm + cumin - 10 gm + dry cinnamon leaves - 10 gm + black pepper - 10 gm + betel leaves - 5 + shallots - 2 bulbs + turmeric - 10gm + chireta leaf powder - 30 gm + sweet basil 1 handful + meem leaves - 1 handful + Aegle marmalos 1 handful + Jaggery - 100 gm
Blend this to form a paste and mix with jaggery.
Dose: Day 1- One dose every three hours
Day 2 and onwards till recovery - Two doses daily
Ingredients: Acalypha indica leaves - 1 handful + Garlic - 2 pearls + Neem leaves - 1 handful + Coconut or Sesame oil - 500 ml + Turmeric powder - 20 gm + Henna leaves - 1 handful + Tulsi leaves - 1 handful.
Blend all ingredients and mix with 500 ml coconut or sesame oil and boil and bring to cool. Apply gently as a fomentation on the lumps and swollen areas.
Application for wounds if any: clean the wound with a soft cloth and apply gently but do not rub.
For Maggots: Apply Anona leaf paste or camphorated coconut oil for the first day, only if maggots are present.
Until very recently, the veterinary academia ignored the significance of the traditional healing practices, which were popular till the advent of modern drugs. Now, EVM has been accepted globally as an evidence-based practice. It can also address emerging environmental and biomedical issues associated with the use and abuse of modern drug technology.
Healthcare systems for livestock should be accessible, affordable to the patient-owners and must ensure health and wellness in ailing animals.
EVM fulfils all the above criteria and ensure the last mile connectivity to farm-gate animal-health needs of the farmers. EVM is also viewed as a potential tool to promote natural-farming to produce clean milk, meat and eggs for human food basket.
N Punniamurthy is associated with the Center for Ethno-veterinary Sciences and Practice, The University of Trans-disciplinary health sciences and Technology, Bengaluru
Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth
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