& livestock assay data sheet
- Ultrasensitive detection of cowpox virus by real time PCR
Cowpox virus is a DNA virus belonging to the family of orthopox viruses,
which also includes vaccinia virus, variola virus (which causes
smallpox), and at least six other species.
Cowpox virus is distributed mainly in Europe and in adjacent parts of the
former Soviet Union. Despite its name, the reservoir hosts of
cowpox virus are rodents. This virus can occasionally spread to
cats, cows, humans, and zoo animals, including big cats and
elephants. Transmission to humans in the past occurred via
contact with the infected teats of milking cows. However,
infection is currently seen more often among domestic cats, from
which it can be transmitted to humans.
When cows are infected with the virus, there is usually an incubation
period of 3-7 days. During this period of time, cows may be
mildly febrile and papules appear on the teats and udder.
Vesicles will form and rupture readily, leaving raw, ulcerated
areas that form scabs. Lesions usually heal within 1 month.
Milkers may develop fever and lesions on the hands, arms, or
face. Occasionally, cowpox in people can cause generalized
disease, and fatalities have been recorded.
Cowpox virus is very similar to vaccinia virus. Although both viruses can
be readily grown in culture, differentiating the two viruses via
culture-based testing is not easy. However, molecular detection
by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is rapid, specific and highly
sensitive (Gavrilova et al., 2010), and can be used to
specifically identify the virus.
Help confirm the disease causing agent
Identify ASF virus carriers
Help ensure that herds and animal populations are free of
Early prevention of spread of the virus among animals
Minimize human exposure to the virus
Safety monitoring of biological products that derive
Gavrilova, E.V., Shcherbakov, D.N., Maksyutov, R.A., Shchelkunov, S.N.
(2010) Development of real-time PCR assay for specific detection
of cowpox virus. J. Clin. Virol. 49:37-40.
whole blood in EDTA (purple top) or ACD (yellow top) tube, or
lesion swab, or scab.
types other than those listed here, please call to confirm
specimen acceptability and shipping instructions.
specimen types, if there will be a delay in shipping, or during
very warm weather, refrigerate specimens until shipped and ship
with a cold pack unless more stringent shipping requirements are
specified. Frozen specimens should be shipped so as to remain
frozen in transit. See
for more information.
2 business days
Qualitative real time PCR