By George Psyllides
European Union experts have arrived in Cyprus to look into an outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD) among cattle in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said on Wednesday.
The minister said it was a “very important matter” as it was the first time LSD appeared on EU soil, apparently imported from Turkey.
Since the Republic does not have any control over the north, it has asked the EU for experts who arrived on the island on Monday and were expected to go to the north to assess the situation.
The minister said so far only a small number of animals have been affected but the objective was to tackle the disease before it spread.
LSD is a disease spread by insect bites. Symptoms include fever, discharge from the eyes and nose and skin lesions among others. It is sometimes fatal. Quarantine restrictions are of limited use and vaccinations are the best method of control.
Kouyialis said the Republic was monitoring the situation and measures were already in place but it was not known what measures were taken in the occupied areas.
“It is not transmitted to humans … but there is a problem with the animal population because it can easily spread, if not tackled effectively, and we would never want such incidents in Cyprus again,” Kouyialis said.
Cyprus had a difficult time with Brucellosis — a bacterial infection that spreads from animals to humans treated with antibiotics — in the past, which took 13 years to eradicate.
The EU has recently declared Cyprus free of Brucellosis.
“You realise we cannot play games with these matters and that is the reason I asked the (European) Commission to come here and tell us what is happening,” the minister said. “The Commission is very concerned about this disease. I am certain that within the next two to three days we will have an assessment and the ways with which the disease must be tackled.”
By George Psyllides