Lumpy skin disease

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a serious disease of cattle, water buffalo and banteng. It is spread by biting flies and mosquitoes, midges and possibly ticks.

It has never been detected in Australia but is an emerging threat as it continues to spread throughout Asia.

LSD is highly infectious and caused by a virus like sheep or goat pox from the poxviridae family. It causes cattle, water buffalo and banteng to develop widespread skin lumps, scabs and ulcers.

It does not affect other livestock or humans.

One way LSD can enter Australia is through international travel and mail.

Declare your goods

You must declare certain food, animal products and plant material when arriving in Australia.

If you don't declare goods that may risk Australia’s biosecurity, you could be fined or prosecuted.

Read more about international travel and your responsibilities on the Australian Government website.

Check your mail

Don't order animal hides, or animal or food products containing meat from overseas through the mail.

You must make a report if you receive international mail that contains meat or animal products. Do this on the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture website.

Check for signs

If you see any signs of LSD in your livestock, you should report it immediately.

You must:

Get a property identification code

You must register a property identification code (PIC) if you own cattle or buffalo. It is free and can be done online.

The PIC system allows animals to be easily traced if an animal disease outbreak takes place.

Complete a waybill if you move livestock

If you plan to move your cattle or buffalo, you must complete an NT waybill.

This is an official record of livestock movement which allows a biosecurity response team to track animals if an outbreak happens.

How to protect your livestock

To reduce the impact of insect-borne diseases on your animals, make sure any stagnant water does not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes or other biting insects.

To find out more about protecting the health of your livestock and reduce biosecurity threats, go to the Farm Biosecurity website.

LSD can look like other common skin diseases such as:

  • bovine herpes virus 2
  • warts
  • mange
  • ringworm
  • rain scald.

Brahman (bos indicus) cattle and buffalo have more subtle skin lumps compared with the British breed (bos taurus) cattle. This may make detection of LSD harder in northern Australia where breeding Brahman cattle is more common.

You should consider LSD as a differential diagnosis in livestock that have multiple skin lesions.

As LSD can only be diagnosed at a laboratory, you should take samples and submit them for diagnostic testing.

You can get case subsidies and free testing at the Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory.

Always practise good biosecurity when you are out hunting.

  • Clean and disinfect all equipment on site.
  • Report any unusual signs in animals by calling the emergency animal disease hotline on 1800 675 888.
  • Respect all quarantines and restrictions that are in place.
  • Don't move live animals to new locations.

How to prepare

Enhanced surveillance for LSD is underway in the NT. You can help by remaining alert for LSD.

If you notice anything unusual or suspicious in cattle, buffalo or banteng, you must report it.


Cattle, water buffalo and banteng infected with LSD will have the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • depression
  • tiredness
  • skin nodules:
    • 2 to 5cm, round, firm and slightly raised
    • found on the head, neck, limbs, udder and under the tail area
    • may become scabby, ulcerated and infected
    • can cause severe pain and inflammation.

Animals may go off their feed and some may die.

Any cases of skin lumps and scabs should be investigated thoroughly by a vet to rule out LSD.

LSD in cattle overseas versus bovine herpese virus 2

Image shows LSD in cattle overseas versus bovine herpes virus 2.


If you're a vet or producer who wants to test cattle for LSD, follow these steps:

Step 1. Read the sample test kit fact sheet PDF (463.8 KB).

Step 2. Request a sample kit by filling in the livestock skin disease and sample kit form DOCX (60.9 KB).

Get the sample kit guide PDF (627.9 KB) to find out what's in the kit.

Step 3. Take the skin sample.

You can also watch a demonstration of livestock skin sampling below.

If LSD is suspected, call the animal disease watch hotline on 1800 675 888.

Read the emergency animal diseases - a field guide on the Australian Government's Outbreak website.

Read more on LSD on the World Organisation for Animal Health website.

LSD is established in Africa, the Middle East, south-east Europe, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Russia.

In the past few years, it has been reported in:

  • Bangladesh, China and India in 2019
  • Taiwan, Nepal, Vietnam, Bhutan, Hong Kong and Myanmar in 2020
  • Thailand and Malaysia in 2021
  • Indonesia in 2022.

The disease has never been recorded in the Northern Territory (NT) or Australia but is spreading rapidly internationally.

If LSD was found in Australia, it would impact cattle and buffalo livestock industries and trade.

The Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) would be used to guide the emergency response to the disease.

You can find out more on the Animal Health Australia website.

Cattle, buffalo and banteng can become infected with the virus through the bite of infected insects, including flies, mosquitoes, midges and possibly ticks.

The virus can also remain active on infected animals, and can contaminate by-products like hides, as well as equipment and other surfaces.

Experts are studying all the ways the LSD can be spread to understand more about the disease.

Eradication of LSD is difficult and early detection would be essential for successful control.

The Australian Government has put measures in place to stop LSD entering Australia. Read more on the DAWE website.

The NT has a plan to keep the region free from the disease. Read the NT LSD action plan PDF (295.9 KB).


There is currently no LSD vaccine approved for use in Australia.

In southern Europe, vaccination has been used to effectively control LSD outbreaks. However, in other areas, vaccination has not been successful.

How to report

If you notice anything unusual or suspicious:

Alerts and updates

For biosecurity alerts and updates, go to the Biosecurity NT Facebook page.

More information

To find out more about LSD and the Australian Government's response, go to the  AWE website.

Read about the Northern Australia quarantine strategy on the AWE website.


Contact your local veterinary or livestock biosecurity officer.

Last updated: 09 May 2022

Give feedback about this page.

Share this page:

URL copied!