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Signs of sheep and goat pox and how to treat it

Livestock By Paul Kang'ethe | 04th Aug, 2020

Sheep pox and goat pox are viral diseases of sheep and goats characterized by fever, generalized papules or nodules, vesicles, internal lesions particularly in the lungs, and death.

Both diseases are caused by strains of Capripoxvirus, all of which can infect sheep and goats.

Sheep pox virus and goat pox virus are the causative agents of sheep pox and goat pox, and with lumpy skin disease virus makes up the genus Capripoxvirus in the family Poxviridae.

Sheep pox and goat pox are endemic in Africa north of the Equator, the Middle East, and Asia, while some parts of Europe have experienced outbreaks recently.

Signs of sheep and goat pox

The incubation period of sheep pox and goat pox is between 8 and 13 days following contact between infected and susceptible animals.

It presents with the development of, at first, macules – small circumscribed areas of hyperemia, which are most obvious on unpigmented skin – and then of papules – hard swellings of between 0.5 and 1 cm in diameter – which may cover the body or be restricted to the groin, axilla, and perineum. Papules may be covered by fluid-filled vesicles, but this is rare.

Within 24 hours of the appearance of generalized papules, affected animals develop inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose, inflammation of the conjunctiva, and enlargement of all the superficial lymph nodes, in particular the prescapular lymph nodes. Papules on the eyelids cause inflammation of the eyelids of varying severity.

As the papules on the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose ulcerate, so the discharge becomes mucopurulent, and the mucosae of the mouth, anus, and prepuce or vagina become necrotic.

Breathing may become labored and noisy due to pressure on the upper respiratory tract from the swollen retropharyngeal lymph nodes, due to the developing lung lesions.

The skin lesions are susceptible to flystrike, and secondary pneumonia is common.

Lack of appetite is not usual unless the mouth lesions physically interfere with feeding.

Pregnant animals often abort

How do animals get Sheep and Goat Pox?

By direct contact between animals and from contained things

Many animals get infections from people who have had contact with an infected animal

Infection also comes from blisters and scabs of infected animals

Infection can live for a long time in the dry scabs that fall off

Treatment for Sheep and Goat Pox

There’s no treatment for sheep and goat pox

Prevention and Control Measures for Sheep and Goat Pox

Isolate infected animals by moving healthy animals away from them.

Avoid moving infected animals to areas without the disease.

Quarantine before introduction in the herd.

Avoid using or disinfect equipment that has come into contact with infected animals.

Proper disposal of carcasses and products.

Ensure new-born animals get colostrum that gives them immunity from their mothers

Vaccinate healthy animals every year with sheep and goat pox vaccine.

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