What is cowpox, disease symptoms, and treatment methods

Smallpox in a cow (cowpox) is a viral disease. The virus most often affects the skin of the udder, lips, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose. Healthy individuals can catch the infection by contact with infected individuals. To protect the animal, you must follow the sanitary standards and rules for the maintenance of cattle. Cows can be cured with antibiotics and folk remedies.

Smallpox in cows

What is chickenpox in a cow, what is its treatment, how are cows and human smallpox related? To get rid of this ailment, you need to know the signs of the development of the disease and what consequences the lack of treatment can lead to.

Etiology of cowpox

Smallpox most commonly affects adult dairy cows. The etiology of cowpox viral disease is as follows: the disease is caused by DNA viruses of the Chordopoxvirinae subfamily. Smallpox virus in cows consists of many chemical components. When the pathogen enters the body, it is localized in the cells of the integumentary tissue (skin, mucous membranes).

Not only representatives of cattle can become infected with the smallpox virus, but also goats, pigs, horses, rabbits, and guinea pigs. People are also affected.

Infection is transmitted in the following ways:

  1. By airborne droplets and by contact. The virus enters the external environment with secretions of the mucous membranes, with crusts of dead epidermis.
  2. With insect bites. They can be carriers of the disease, in the body of arthropods, foreign DNA lasts up to 100 days.
  3. From rats and mice. Rodents secrete the virus into feed, hay, and water.
  4. Through veterinary equipment, automatic milking machines.

The virus enters the broken skin of the udder, then smallpox develops on the udder of the cow. If the animal has a deficiency of vitamin A, the pathogen is able to penetrate the epidermis without violating its integrity. In calves, the virus enters the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose.

Symptoms of smallpox in cows

How smallpox develops in cows and its signs are manifested depends on the way the virus enters the body, the virulence of the strain, and the animal’s health status. From the day of infection, usually 4-9 days pass and the first symptoms appear. The disease is acute, very rarely becomes chronic. In bulls, the course of the disease is hidden, signs rarely appear. Smallpox in cows has symptoms similar to the human form of the disease.

Symptoms of the cow's disease:

  1. Reduced interest in food.
  2. Lethargy, anxiety, sometimes aggression.
  3. Persistent hyperthermia up to 40 ° C.
  4. Reduced milk yield. Inflammation of the breast tissue develops, lactation is difficult.
  5. The skin of the udder and nipples swell.
  6. Inflammation on the udder, mucous membranes in the mouth, nasal passages, in bulls, on the scrotum. The inflammatory process is manifested by a red rash or spots.
  7. When walking, the animal widely spreads its hind legs.

Inflammation begins with small reddish spots. After two days, papules grow from the spots. The papule is a nodular growth. After 24 hours, the inflammation passes into the stage of the vesicles. An ailment is concentrated inside the vesicles, lymphocytes are ejected there by immune cells. Gradually, pus accumulates in the vesicles. This is the result of the activity of lymphocytes. Pus consists of the proteins of a dead virus, blood albumin, spent immune cells. The pustular stage begins. Pustules have a rounded or elongated shape. They are surrounded by a red rim and deepened in the middle.

Smallpox on the udder of a cow can occur with a small number of pustules. Pus inside the bladder dries up on the 12th day, a scab of dead skin cells appears. In severe cases of the disease, the number of nodules is large, they merge into one. The skin under the abscesses is inflamed and hard to the touch.

What udders look like with smallpox in cows can be seen in the photo.

Disease prognosis

The prognosis of cow disease in most cases is favorable, but if treatment is not started on time, serious complications can arise.

If the smallpox in the cow proceeds in a mild form, the inflammatory process ends after 20 days or after a month. With a severe form of the disease, recovery takes up to 2 months.

In calves, virus reproduction occurs in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. With untimely treatment, the pathogen enters the gastrointestinal tract. Complications of the disease in calves:

  1. bronchopneumonia;
  2. gastroenteritis.

If red spots appear on any part of the cattle’s body, isolate the animal and call a veterinarian to make an accurate diagnosis of cow pox. It is necessary to begin treatment immediately.

Diagnosis of cowpox

Diagnosis of a cow viral disease is carried out by a veterinarian based on clinical signs and test results. For analysis use:

  1. Blood (examined for the presence of antibodies).
  2. Fluid from vesicles.
  3. Smears from the surface of opened papules.

The contents of the vesicles are examined for the presence of the vaccinia virus. In the veterinary laboratory, biomaterial is cultivated. The strain of the virus and its severity are determined.

During the initial examination, it is important to distinguish this disease from "foot and mouth disease." With "foot and mouth disease" in cattle (cattle), aphthae - vesicles with a clear liquid form in the inter-experimental gap of the nasal passages. The contents of aft darkens within 2 days and goes outside. On the mucous membranes are sores.

Treatment of smallpox

After the diagnosis of smallpox of cows is diagnosed, the sick animal is removed from the herd. It is important to protect livestock from becoming infected with the virus. It is necessary to ensure proper care for the cow, regularly ventilate the premises, carry out disinfection, increase the number of feedings.

How to treat smallpox in cows? If smallpox is localized in cows only on the udder, treatment methods are used:

  1. Drug therapy. Treating a cow for smallpox involves prescribing antibiotics. Antibiotics for chickenpox in cows have both therapeutic and prophylactic functions.
  2. Local disinfection, cauterization of sores. Used tincture of potassium iodide, borax, chloramine (3% solution).
  3. Wound healing. Use petroleum jelly, ichthyol ointment. Smallpox in cows has signs of irritation and inflammation on the tender skin of the udder. The first stage is blisters, a rash, the second stage is the appearance of wounds, the third stage is purulent wounds.
  4. Skin softening. Apply ointments with vegetable oils and glycerin.

If the inflammatory process proceeds in the nasal passages, apply a 3% solution of boric acid for washing. Treatment of cowpox with folk remedies is very popular.

Together with the food, the sick animal is given elderberry leaves, cloves of garlic, blackberry leaves and linden.

The udder is treated with a decoction of a mixture of elderberry and sorrel leaves. They are combined in equal proportions, cut into small pieces. Then the raw material is poured with a liter of water and boiled in a water bath. Wounds are washed daily. After the infection, a lifelong immunity is formed in the animal.

What to do with sick cow's milk

If a cow is infected with a virus, its milk yield is greatly reduced, but milk must be dispensed every day. The causative agent settles in the cells of the udder epithelium and may pass into milk. A person is sensitive to the pathogen, therefore, raw milk should not be drunk, only boiled for 5-7 minutes. Also, you can not use the product during treatment of cattle with antibiotics. This can lead to dysbiosis and allergies.

On large farms, milk from diseased cows and animals that came into contact with them must be pasteurized. It goes to feed the young.


To avoid cattle infection with this virus on large farms and small households, the rules of prevention must be observed. Precisely preventive measures will help to be safe from an accidental outbreak of the disease. Cows chickenpox is a special form of the disease, and special treatment and prevention standards are required to treat it.

Prevention of infection in cattle:

  1. Do not purchase or import animals from farms where epidemics of a viral infection have been recorded. Buy food and equipment only from trusted people.
  2. Livestock purchased must be kept in quarantine for a month. During this period, it is important to conduct a full examination of the animals.
  3. Maintain the condition of sheds, pastures according to the requirements of sanitary standards.
  4. Make sure that only disinfected veterinary instruments and household equipment are used.
  5. If outbreaks of cattle incidence are recorded in the area where the farm is located, vaccines must be vaccinated for the entire population. A live virus vaccine is being used.

One of the important preventive measures is the correct maintenance of sick animals. It is very important to limit as much as possible the contact of infected livestock with healthy individuals on the farm. If this is not done, there is a risk of the rapid spread of the disease to the entire livestock yard.

How to keep sick cows

Keeping sick cattle requires special conditions, because during this period the animal is too vulnerable to other infections. To accelerate recovery from smallpox of cows, to avoid infection of other individuals, the norms of keeping infected cattle must be observed:

  1. Infected cows, bulls or calves are housed in a room separate from the general herd. It should not be damp, cold or hot. It is necessary to ensure a temperature of 20-25 ° C and good ventilation. In such conditions, livestock feel comfortable, treating a cow with smallpox is accelerated.
  2. Care should be taken for sick individuals who have been vaccinated against the virus.
  3. They carry out cleaning and sanitization of the premises 5 days after each opening of abscesses. Disinfect the barn with hot alkali (4%), 2% formaldehyde or 20% slaked lime. It is also necessary to disinfect manure in order to avoid infection of animals with the fecal-oral route. Manure is treated with bleach or simply burned.
  4. Milk tankers treat milk containers with chloramine or sodium hypochlorite.

If cases of cowpox are recorded on the farm, the owner and the veterinary service are required to report this to the appropriate supervisory authorities. Sanitary restrictions are imposed on the farm, which are lifted 21 days after cattle recover, if there were no new cases of infection. Final disinfection is carried out for prevention in all rooms where livestock is kept.

Safe livestock

In order for smallpox in cows on the udder not to be transmitted to humans, simple preventative measures must be followed. On large farms, all workers are required to be vaccinated against smallpox. After vaccination, a person is exempted from working with animals for 14 days if the reaction is normal. If the response to the vaccine is complicated, then you can start duties only after full recovery.

In small households, milkmaids must work in clean, special clothing that remains within the barn and is not taken home. Before milking, be sure to wash your hands, treat the cow udder with warm water and lubricate with disinfectants.

If, after working with a cow, a red rash or blisters appear on your hands, you need to see a doctor and call a veterinarian to examine livestock. Also, the owner needs to be immediately examined by a dermatologist, because such a rash is a direct threat to a person.


Smallpox cows has a viral etiology. Signs of the disease are a red rash, purulent blisters on the skin and mucous membranes of cattle. Before treating smallpox in cows, animals are isolated from the general herd.

Treating a cow with smallpox requires antibiotic injections and regular treatment with antiseptics of inflamed tissues. The vaccinia virus can infect humans, therefore, mandatory vaccination is carried out on large farms.


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