The sheep pox virus (SPPV) and goat pox virus (GTPV) are contagious viral skin diseases of sheep and goats. They are members of the Poxviridae, genus Capripoxvirus and were believed to be strains of the same virus, but genetic sequencing has shown they are closely related separate viruses. Some strains are able to infect both sheep and goats whilst others are host specific. Recombination can also occur between sheep and goat strains, creating a range of host preferences and virulence. Both viruses possess an envelope, capsid and double stranded DNA genome.
- Sheep/goat pox is a notifiable disease and should be reported.
Please see the Defra website for advice on how to spot and report the disease.
SPPV and GTPV cause pox in sheep and goats. The virus is found in saliva, secretions from the nose, eyes, milk, urine and faeces. Scabs from the skin lesions are also infectious and can survive in the environment. Clinical signs vary with younger animals being more severely affected.
- Red spots that become blisters on the muzzle, eyelids, ears, udder or in severe cases all over the body.
- Lesions can develop internally causing breathing difficulties
- Reluctance to feed
- Eye and nose discharge or swollen eyelids
- Death (5-10% in endemic areas, approaching 100% in imported animals)
Animals can be infected by direct contact with infected animals or indirectly through contaminated objects (fomites) such as clothing or footwear. The virus is also present in respiratory aerosols and can be spread by close contact and by insects.
Sheep and goat pox can be found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, India and also Greece.
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The Non-Vesicular Disease Reference Laboratory at the Institute provides a referencing lab for SPPV and GTPV. This aids in the identification of strains should there be an outbreak.