In the last six months, 11 of India’s 28 states have witnessed outbreaks of a viral infection among cattle caused by the nodular skin disease (LSD) virus. About three million cattle across the country were affected.
Milk prices has been soaring for last few months and the shortage of milk products is also being faced in a few states of India.
Dairy customers in the Indian states of Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi and surrounding areas have been complaining of shortages of products such as butter and cheese since early November.
Sonia Singh, a resident of Ghaziabad district in Uttar Pradesh state, told that she looked for the butter in at least 10 stores, including Mother Dairy (a government-run chain of milk stores) and online, but couldn’t find it anywhere.
Meanwhile, Amul, the milk and milk supply group that sells nearly four million liters a day, mostly in Delhi and the National Capital Region, confirmed the shortage but assured reporters last week that the situation would normalize in the coming weeks.
Amid the milk shortage, Mother Dairy on Monday hiked milk prices, surprising its customers as the producer raised prices for the fourth time this year. Earlier, the Amul group also increased the price of milk.
India is the world’s largest milk producer and also has the world’s largest cattle population. As a result, the virus infection threatens the livelihood of farmers across the country. The situation is particularly risky in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, where dozens of cattle are said to have died from the disease.
Doctors say symptoms can be managed and animals can recover if proper care is given. The virus can be easily detected because when an animal is infected, 2-5 cm wide nodules appear on its body, especially around the neck and genital head, and it also develops a fever.
At the same time, there is a possibility that cows are producing less milk because they are weakened by the formation of nodules, fever and other symptoms brought on by LSD, Shah noted.
As there is currently no specialized vaccine against LSD, state governments in India vaccinate cows with goat pox vaccine.