Cow Pox

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This is a pox virus that affects cattle, cats and humans, therefore it is zoonotic. It is a disease of management in dairy cattle, with poor hygiene of milking equipment thought to contribute largely to the spread of infection. The virus is transmitted by direct contact either from milking equipment in cattle or from rodents (which act as a reservoir) in cats. The disease is now uncommon due to excellent hygiene protocols on farms.

Clinical Signs

On the cow, lesions develop on teats and udder and appear as shallow, pus-filled, crate-like ulcers. They are flat, red and glistening in some cases. These same lesions are found most commonly on the paws, head and lips of cats. Cats can also be infected with a respiratory form, where proliferative and necrotic lesions can be seen in the mouth and lead to the upper respiratory tract. This form is invariably fatal.

Man can be infected by cows or cats and pocks form on forearm or face that can generalize if the person is immunosuppressed.


Differential diagnosis to be considered is Pseudocowpox, which is a different poxvirus with mild and more common lesions. This is also zoonotic and is also seen in cows.


Proper hygiene and management.


Blood, D.C. and Studdert, V. P. (1999) Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary (2nd Edition) Elsevier Science

Bridger, J and Russell, P (2007) Virology Study Guide, Royal Veterinary College

Radostits, O.M, Arundel, J.H, and Gay, C.C. (2000) Veterinary Medicine: a textbook of the diseases of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses Elsevier Health Sciences

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