Sheep pox (SP) and goat pox (GP) are caused by a capripox viruses, a genus which also includes the Lumpy skin disease (LSD) of cattle. SGP are highly contagious diseases of sheep and goats characterised by fever, ocular and nasal discharges. Pox lesions appear on the skin and on the respiratory and gastro-intestinal mucosa. These diseases may be mild in indigenous breeds living in endemic areas, but they are often fatal in newly introduced animals. Economic losses result from decreased milk production, damage to the quality of hides and wool, and other production losses.
SPV and GPV cannot be distinguished from each other with serological techniques, including viral neutralisation. SPV and GPV are also closely related to lumpy skin disease virus in cattle (LSDV), but there is no evidence LSDV causes disease in sheep and goats. It has a different transmission mechanism (insects) and partially different geographic distribution. There is no evidence that SGP can infect humans.
Sheep pox and goat pox are endemic in north and central Africa, parts of the Middle East, Turkey, and some parts of Asia including the Indian subcontinent. The most recent outbreaks occurred in our region were in Vietnam in 2005, Mongolia in 2008 and 2009 and Chinese Taipei in 2008, which are all resolved by stamping out and movement control.
In Asia and the Pacific region, the OIE Reference Laboratory for sheep pox and goat pox is situated in Iran. It can provide technical advice and can offer training opportunities for personnel from OIE Members.