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sheeppox virus, goatpox virus, lumpy skin disease virus


  • Family: Poxviridae, subfamily: Chordopoxvirinae, genus: Capripoxvirus
  • Notifiable disease: Yes


Poxvirus Capripoxvirus represents one of eight genera within the Chordopoxvirinae (ChPV) subfamily of the Poxviridae family. According to their host-range specificity species are classified as sheeppox virus, goatpox virus, or lumpy skin disease virus.

Capripoxviruses are responsible for some of the most significant diseases of domestic ruminants in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. All species induce an acute to chronic disease that can cause mild to severe clinical signs including persistent fever, lymphadenitis and generalized lesions throughout the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs.

The severity of the clinical signs depends on the host breed, viral strain, dose and route of inoculation. There is no conclusive evidence that these viruses are pathogenic to humans. Capripoxviruses are considered exotic by the European Union and strict measures are therefore taken in every case of an outbreak.


Sheeppox virus and goatpox virus are mainly transmitted by the respiratory route during close contact, but they may also enter the body through other mucous membranes or abraded skin. In contrast, lumpy skin disease virus is primarily transmitted by biting insects. These viruses can be found in saliva, nasal and conjunctival secretions, milk as well as in skin lesions and their scabs.


Diagnosis of the disease is made initially on clinical grounds and subsequently confirmed in the laboratory by classical virological and/or serological methods. Due to the low antibody response following infection, confirmation of the disease is generally based on the detection of Capripoxvirus virions or antigens through electron microscopy, virus isolation and/or real-time PCR.Poxvirus


Samples for virus isolation should be taken during the first week after the onset of symptoms, before neutralizing antibodies have developed. Samples for real-time PCR can still be collected after that.


Vaccination is the most effective means of controlling losses from Capripoxviruses. Several modified live attenuated virus vaccines have been used for protection against these viruses. The most widely employed vaccines are the Romanian strain (sheeppox virus) and the Neethling strain (lumpy skin disease virus).




CODA-CERVA is the Belgian Reference Laboratory for Capripoxvirus.
Specific information for diagnosis (matrix, tests)
- virus isolation: skin lesions, lesions from respiratory and/or gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes
- molecular diagnosis: whole blood, skin lesions, lesions from respiratory and/or gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes


Development of diagnostic tools for the rapid identification of Capripoxviruses.


The laboratory has the necessary authorizations and facilities to isolate the virus under safe conditions. The personnel is experienced with the isolation and molecular diagnosis of Capripoxviruses from clinical samples.


Kris De Clercq
Andy Haegeman
Jan Mast


- Haegeman A, Zro K, Vandenbussche F, Demeestere L, Van Campe W, Ennaji MM, De Clercq K (2013). Development and validation of three Capripoxvirus real-time PCRs for parallel testing. J. Vir. Methods, 193(2):446-451.