National Reference Laboratory for Sheep and Goat Pox and
National Reference Laboratory for Lumpy-skin-Disease (Dermatitis nodularis)
Institute of Diagnostic Virology
Sheep pox and goat pox
Sheep pox and goat pox are highly contagious diseases of small ruminants caused by capripox viruses (family Poxviridae). They are notifiable acute diseases characterized by typical generalized skin lesions (papulo-vesicular exanthema). Sheep pox and goat pox viruses are morphologically indistinguishable. Genetic recombination between them can occur. They are transmitted by direct contact with infected animals and have a high tenacity.
Initial clinical symptoms are fever, increased salivation and nasal and ocular discharge. Within a few days, papules, nodules and vesicles appear on the head, in the genital area and on the udder. The lesions can take up to six weeks to heal. High mortality can occur in lambs, when mucosal surfaces of the alimentary and respiratory tracts are severely affected. Massive lesions in these areas can give rise to secondary bacterial infections.
Sheep pox and goat pox are endemic in Central and Northern Africa, in the Near and Middle East and India. They are not geographically restricted and can spread outside their usual range at any time. Europe is considered free of sheep pox and goat pox, but recently outbreaks have occurred in the southeast (Greece and Bulgaria).
Lumpy Skin Disease
Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is a notifiable viral infection of cattle and bison. Similar to sheep pox/goat pox, cutaneous lesions are the main symptom of LSD. The disease is endemic in Africa, but so far no cases have been reported from Europe. LSD is spread by insects. Following an incubation period of two to four weeks, there is a short viremic phase with fever and generalized lymphadenopathy. Apart from edema of the limbs and lower abdomen, the disease is characterized by nodules of 0.5 to 5 cm in diameter that appear all over the body (especially on the neck, perineum and the medial aspects of the hind legs). Morbidity is variable (5-45%), but mortality is generally low (<10%).
The etiological agent of LSD also belongs to the Capripoxvirus genus (family Poxviridae, subfamily Chordopoxvirinae). It is serologically indistinguishable from the agent of sheep pox/goat pox.
Services offered by the reference laboratory
- Primary contact for federal and state authorities regarding capripox virus detection
- Virus isolation, PCR and serological testing
- Development, standardization and improvement of Capripox-specific diagnostic methods
Overview of available methods
- Virus isolation in cell culture
- Genome detection by diverse PCR methods
- Genome and strain characterization by PCR and sequencing
- Serum neutralization tests
- Virus strains
- Antibody-positive sera (sheep pox)
- Optimization of PCR-based capripox virus detection and characterization
- Establishment of a serum neutralization test
- Council Directive 92/119/EEC
- Verordnung über anzeigepflichtige Tierseuchen