Lumpy skin disease

Preferred citation: Anipedia, JAW Coetzer and P Oberem (Directors) In: Infectious Diseases of Livestock, JAW Coetzer, GR Thomson,
NJ Maclachlan and M-L Penrith (Editors). J A W Coetzer, E Tuppurainen, S Babiuk and D B Wallace, Lumpy skin disease, 2018.
Lumpy skin disease

Lumpy skin disease

Previous authors: J A W COETZER

Current authors:
J A W COETZER - Professor Emeritus, BVSc, BVSc (Hons), M Med Vet (Path), Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private, Bag X04, Onderstepoort, Gauteng, South Africa, 0081
E TUPPURAINEN - Self Employed, DMV, MSc, PHD, MRCVS, Ketokiventie 2 B 6,  Helsinki, 00710, Finland
S BABIUK - Research Scientist, PhD, National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 3MA, Canada
D B WALLACE - Senior Researcher, PhD, Agricultural Research Council, Onderstepoort Veterinary Research, Old Soutpan Road, Pretoria, Gauteng, 0110, South Africa


Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a viral disease of cattle and possibly Asian domestic buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) caused by lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV). It is characterized by fever and multiple firm, well-circumscribed and deep-seated skin nodules and necrotic plaques in the mucous membranes, chiefly of the upper respiratory tract and oral cavity. Mastitis, orchitis and swelling of peripheral lymph nodes are also common. Lumpy skin disease virus is a capripoxvirus first isolated in the 1940s; however, the first widespread outbreak was reported from Zambia in 1929.5, 15

Despite the fact that its origins are obscure LSD was until recently believed to be a disease confined to Africa. The disease that was initially termed pseudo-urticaria, but now presumed to have been LSD,81, 82 was thought to be the result of insect bites and later ascribed to plant poisoning.81 Lumpy skin disease was first recognized as an infectious condition in 1943 following an outbreak in Ngamiland (northern Botswana).119 Towards the end of 1944 LSD was reported from South Africa105 where it spread rapidly throughout the country despite enforcement of control measures. The disease subsequently spread northwards and was reported from Central and East Africa in 1956; since then it has occurred widely in Africa and in Madagascar.39, 52, 91, 92 It was first reported from Ethiopia in 198383 and in Egypt in 1988.64 Lumpy skin disease was recorded for the first time outside Africa/Madagascar in 1989 in Israel,37, 123 followed by outbreaks in Bahrain and Reunion in 1993, although those outbreaks were not confirmed by virus isolation.10

In 2006 and 2007 LSD was reported again in Egypt98 and Israel and in 2009 occurred in Oman.25 The disease reappeared in northern Israel in 201220 and then spread swiftly in the Middle East, being reported in Lebanon, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories and Jordan.1 The disease also spread into Turkey,106 Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2013.4 In 2014 outbreaks of LSD were reported in Iran99 and the northern part of Cyprus as well as in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.103 It then spread northeast through the Caucasus, affecting Azerbaijan (2014), Armenia and the Russian Federation (2015) and Georgia and Kazakhstan (2016).

Lumpy skin disease was reported for the first time in the European Union from Greece in 2015; it probably originated in Thrace (Turkey). The Greek outbreak occurred in two beef herds situated in the Evros River Delta from August 2015 to December 2015, i.e. within 15 km of the closest confirmed LSD outbreak in Turkey. The Evros River Delta is a National Park and a wetland with high temperatures and humidity. The disease emerged again in Greece from April to November 2016.3, 49

In 2016 LSD spread to Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania ( WAHIS Interface).49 In the same year it was reported again in Iran and Iraq as well as Azerbaijan.126

The number of reported LSD outbreaks in Balkan countries was substantially less in 2017 (385) than in 2016 (7,483) and most occurred in Albania (379) in areas where vaccination was not applied in all cattle herds, indicating that the virus is still present in the environment and/or in the cattle population and may re-emerge again.49 In contrast, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo reported no outbreaks, providing field evidence of the effectiveness of mass vaccination campaigns conducted at regional levels.49

Since the beginning of the LSD epidemic in south Eastern Europe (excluding Turkey) in 2015 more than 7900 outbreaks and approximately 13 650 cases have been reported.49

It appears that LSD spread rapidly and more or less unpredictably during the recent outbreaks in Greece and the Balkan countries. Current information on its distribution can be obtained from the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) website ( under the WAHIS interface’s disease distribution maps and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO EMPRES-I website, Information is also provided by FAO on the incursion risk of LSD to Central Asia and Europe51 and distribution maps of recent outbreaks (2013-2017) in the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkans and Eastern Europe/ Central Asia.51

Lumpy skin disease can be considered a ‘neglected disease’ because since it was first confirmed as a poxvirus infection in South Africa in 1944, research has been limited. Until recently, LSD was not a research priority for developed countries because it was exotic. Consequently, there are still gaps in information about the disease including:

  • the role of different potential insect vectors, including ticks, in...

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