Sheep & Goat Pox

Sheep & Goat Pox


It is a highly contagious acute disease of sheep and goats characterized by fever and cutaneous lesions.




Caused by capripox virus of the family poxviridae.




Geographical distribution:

Prevalent in Africa especially north and west of Sahara, Middle East, India, Europe and west of USA. The disease is prevalent in dry areas of with little rains such as the Savanna areas of Africa, deserts and semi-deserts.



Sheep and goats are susceptible. There is a high degree of host adaptation except:

  • Scandinavian goat poxvirus strains affect human, reindeer, and rabbits.
  • Lambs and kids of less than 4 months of age are affected with the malignant form of the disease with high mortality rate up to 80-100% with development of internal lesions.
  • Adults are affected with the benign form of the disease with development of external lesions.


Sources of infection:

  • Infected diseased or recovered sheep and goats constitute the main source of the virus.
  • The virus in exudates and scabs is the main source of infection.
  • The virus is also present in saliva, milk, ocular and nasal discharges.



  • Skin abrasions.
  • Aerosol transmission.
  • Lambs may be infected during suckling from infected dams.




The virus replicates locally resulting in a cell associated viremia, which is manifested by fever. Secondary skin lesions appear 2-5 days after the onset of fever. The development of skin lesions begins with local reddening (macula) followed by popular stage with depressed hard center and a zone of hyperemia. Some viruses produce a vesicular stage. Papules form scabs which persist on skin for 2-3 weeks and then are shed leaving scars.


Incubation period: 7-10 days.


Clinical signs


  • Benign form (adult sheep and goat):
  • Fever, depression and anorexia.
  • Lacrimation, salivation and nasal discharges.
  • Development of pox lesions.
  • Skin lesions.
  • Dark, hard, sharply demarcated scabs.
  • All superficial lymph nodes become enlarged.
  • Pregnant sheep and goat may abort.


  • Malignant form (lambs and kids):
  • Fever, depression and anorexia.
  • Lacrimation, salivation and nasal discharges.
  • Animals may die before development of lesions.
  • Respiratory manifestation occurs due to internal lesions in turbinates and trachea or due to obstruction by enlarged retropharyngeal lymph node.


Post mortem lesions


  • Skin lesions (papules, vesicles, pustules and scabs).
  • Internal lesions (malignant form) in esophagus, pharynx, larynx, lungs and abomasum.
  • The prescapular, precrural, mediastinal and retropharyngeal lymph nodes are enlarged.




  1. Broad spectrum antibiotics may reduce losses and secondary infections.
  2. Skin lesions can be treated with antiseptics, zinc oxide, phenolized ointments or antibiotic ointments.

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