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Institute of Diagnostic Virology (IVD)

National Reference Laboratory for Sheep and Goat Pox and National Reference Laboratory for Lumpy-skin-Disease (LSD)

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).

Lumpy Skin Disease

Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is a notifiable viral infection of cattle and bison. The disease is endemic in Africa, and since 2015 an ongoing massive epidemic has also been observed in Europe (in the Balkans). In most cases, the disease is spread by insects and also causes cutaneous lesions. 

Following an incubation period of two to four weeks, there is a short viremic phase with fever and generalized lymphadenopathy. Apart from edema of the limbs and lower abdomen, the disease is characterized by nodules of 0.5 to 5 cm in diameter that appear all over the body (especially on the neck, perineum and the medial aspects of the hind legs). Morbidity is variable (5-45%), but mortality is generally low (<10%).

The etiological agent of LSD also belongs to the Capripoxvirus genus (family Poxviridae, subfamily Chordopoxvirinae). It is serologically indistinguishable from the agent of sheep pox/goat pox.

  • Direct contact for federal and state authorities on questions related to Capripox virus detection in animals
  • Virus isolation, PCR and serological detection methods
  • Development, standardization and improvement of Capripox-specific test methods
  • Virus isolation by cell culture
  • Genome detection by different PCR techniques
  • Genome and strain characterization by PCR and sequencing
  • Antibody detection by indirect immunofluorescence (iIFT)
  • Different Capripox virus strains including vaccine strains
  • Positive antiserum against LSDV
  • Optimization of detection and characterization of capripox genome by PCR techniques
  • Implementation and optimization of serum neutralization test (SNT)
  • Capripox virus pathogenesis studies
  • EU RL 92/119 in conjunction with ordinance on notifiable animal diseases and animal vaccine ordinance
  • Ordinance on the prevention of a spread of lumpy skin disease, latest valid version