Virus kills 100,000 cattle in India, threatens livelihoods

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A viral disease that is spread by insects like mosquitoes and ticks has killed at least 100,000 cows and buffaloes in India and sickened more than 2 million.

A viral disease has killed nearly 100,000 cows and buffaloes in India and sickened over 2 million more.

The outbreak has triggered devastating income losses for cattle farmers since the disease not only results in deaths but can also lead to decreased milk production, emaciated animals, and birth issues.

The disease, called lumpy skin disease, is spread by insects that drink blood like mosquitoes and ticks. Infected cows and buffaloes get fevers and develop lumps on their skin.

Farmers have experienced severe losses from extreme weather events over the past year: a record-shattering heat wave in India reduced wheat yields in April, insufficient rainfall in eastern states like Jharkhand state shriveled parched winter crops such as pulses, and an unusually intense September rainfall has damaged rice in the north.

And now, the virus has spread to at least 15 states with the number of cow and buffalo deaths nearly doubling in three weeks.

The contagion spreading among cattle is having a disproportionate impact on small farmers, many of whom have insulated themselves from the shocks of climate change by rearing cattle for milk, said Devinder Sharma, an agriculture policy expert in northern Chandigarh city.

Agencies

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