Cowpox virus infection: an emerging health threat

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Purpose of reviewHuman cowpox, a rare zoonotic infection, evokes a self-limited disease, except for immunocompromised and eczematous patients, particularly children, where it can become severe. The causative agent, cowpox virus, is distributed in Europe, west former USSR, and adjacent areas of Northern and Central Asia, with an increasing number of reports in Europe. The purpose of this paper is to review cowpox with an emphasis on its epidemiology and management.Recent findingsNumerous reports of human cowpox affecting young people in Europe indicate that lack of smallpox vaccination, which has been abandoned since 1977, may render the population more vulnerable to cowpox virus. The ownership of wild and exotic animal pets is becoming more popular, and the range of recognized wild and domestic animal hosts is expanding,SummaryCowpox as a human emerging zoonotic hazard raises public health concerns as well as a question about the production of effective vaccine and antiviral agents.

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