Lumpy skin disease on the radar

Region: Greater Darwin, Katherine Region, Barkly Region, Central Australia | Topic: Livestock
Nov 2021

Lumpy skin disease is a virus of cattle and buffalo which is spread by biting flies and mosquitos. The lumpy skin disease virus is moving closer to Australian shores, and is currently spreading rapidly through the Asia and Pacific region.

What to look for

Lumpy skin disease causes cattle and buffalo to develop widespread skin lumps, scabs and ulcers. Infected animals will develop a fever, become lethargic and go off their feed and some may die.

What an outbreak would mean for the Territory

If it became established in Australia, lumpy skin disease would have devastating effects on cattle and buffalo production, welfare and trade.

The national policy for an outbreak of lumpy skin disease is to eradicate the disease in the shortest possible time using stamping out, control of insect vectors, tracing and surveillance, and movement controls and quarantine. There is no vaccine for lumpy skin disease available for use in Australia.

What you can do

It is critical that any cases of skin lumps and scabs are investigated thoroughly by a veterinarian to rule out lumpy skin disease. Territory producers should:

  • be on the lookout for unusual skin lumps and scabs in cattle and buffalo
  • report any unusual disease to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888 or their veterinarian.

Some common diseases in the Northern Territory, such as bovine herpes virus (BHV-2), warts, mange, ringworm and rain scald could be confused with lumpy skin disease, so it’s vital that samples are taken and submitted to the Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory. Subsidies are available to cover the cost of veterinary investigations which rule out lumpy skin disease.

Cow with lumpy skin diseaseNeck of cow with lumpy skin diseaseClose up of lumpy skin disease

Severe lumpy skin disease (photos courtesy of Dr Massimo Scacchia, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise 'G.Caporale' Via Campo Boario, 64100 Teramo, Italia)

More information

For more information about the subsidies please contact your local vet officers:

Darwin veterinary officer: 08 8999 2035
Katherine veterinary officer: 08 8973 9716

Back to NT Rural Review - November 2021