Sheep pox and goat pox
Sheep pox and goat pox are highly contagious diseases of small ruminants caused by capripox viruses (family Poxviridae). They are notifiable acute diseases characterized by typical generalized skin lesions (papulo-vesicular exanthema). Sheep pox and goat pox viruses are morphologically indistinguishable. Genetic recombination between them can occur. They are transmitted by direct contact with infected animals and have a high tenacity.
Initial clinical symptoms are fever, increased salivation and nasal and ocular discharge. Within a few days, papules, nodules and vesicles appear on the head, in the genital area and on the udder. The lesions can take up to six weeks to heal. High mortality can occur in lambs, when mucosal surfaces of the alimentary and respiratory tracts are severely affected. Massive lesions in these areas can give rise to secondary bacterial infections.
Sheep pox and goat pox are endemic in Central and Northern Africa, in the Near and Middle East and India. They are not geographically restricted and can spread outside their usual range at any time. Europe is considered free of sheep pox and goat pox, but recently outbreaks have occurred in the southeast (Greece and Bulgaria).