Sheep pox and goat pox

The genus Capripoxvirus, has three virus affecting ruminants: the sheep pox, the goat pox and the lumpy skin disease. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research conducts research on this disease.

In natural conditions, the sheep and goat pox viruses are pathogen exclusively for the ovine and caprine species respectively. In general, sheep pox and goat pox viruses are very host-specific although some strains may infect both species.

Clinical signs

In lambs, the clinical signs can be very severe with death occurring very quickly. The chief symptoms are those of fever and paralysis and skin lesions are seen on wool free areas. The skin lesions start as small pimples, which may expand and develop a pus-like discharge. Affected animals may abort their lambs or develop pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

Spread of sheep pox and goat pox

Transmission of sheep pox and goat pox within domestic flocks is considered to be airborne; additional evidence supports mechanical arthropod transmission by Stomyxos calcitrans. The spread of the disease within a flock can infect up to 75 percent of the animals. Morbidity and mortality is highest in young animals and in lactating females, and overall mortality rates of 10 to 58 percent are reported.

Sheep and goat pox are present in the Mediterranean basin including North Africa and in sub-Saharan- Africa, Asia and Middle-East. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government. Transfer of sheep pox among flocks and between countries occurs from the movement of sheep as appears to happen frequently in the countries of the Middle East.