Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a viral disease of cattle caused by a capripoxvirus (as sheep and goat pox viruses); it is characterised by fever, nodules on the skin, and it may lead to severe losses, especially in naive animals. Originally affecting cattle across Africa, the disease has spread outside the continent with outbreaks in Israel and Lebanon in 2012–2013 and currently (2013–2016) epizootics in Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Albania and the Russian Federation are reported.
To control the current LSD epidemic in the European Union (EU), the competent authorities of the affected Member States (MS) are currently implementing a total stamping-out policy of the affected holdings (stamping out the whole herd after detection of an infected case) coupled with vaccination using live homologous vaccines since there is consensus that stamping out alone does not seem sufficient to effectively control the disease, in line with the advice provided in the 2015 EFSA’s scientific opinion.
In accordance with Article 29 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, the Commission asks the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): to assess the implications in disease spread and persistence from the implementation of a partial stamping-out policy (killing and destruction of clinically affected animals only) in holdings where the presence of LSD has been confirmed, against the current EFSA’s advice and policy in place for total stamping out of infected herds coupled with vaccination.
Due to the fast spread of LSDV throughout south-eastern Europe, it appears particularly important to provide insights into the effect of vaccinating susceptible animals before the virus has been introduced in a region or country on the spread of LSDV.