Poxvirus research at Moredun is targeted primarily to the parapoxviruses, a family of viruses that cause disease in ruminants and wildlife. Our main research interest is in Orf virus (ORFV), the causative agent of a contagious pustular dermatitis in sheep and goats which is known by many names including; orf, contagious ecthyma, sore mouth or scabby mouth. Orf, on its own, is usually self-limiting, but occasionally disease can be exacerbated by stress, secondary infections or other complicating factors, such that deaths can occur. The main affect of orf in a flock is lost production with lambs that are slow to thrive leading to delayed finishing times, but occasionally ewes can lose the use of teats and rams can be affected by a genital form of the disease. Humans, too, can be affected by orf with farmers, veterinarians, shepherds and generally anyone handling fleeces or animal carcasses being at greatest occupational risk.
Other parapoxviruses that we work with include bovine papular stomatitis virus (BPSV), psuedocowpoxvirus (PCPV) and the viruses that cause disease in reindeer and seals. BPSV and PCPV both affect cattle, causing lesions mainly on the quarters and around the genital regions, but also in the mouth and around the muzzle. Another closely related virus is squirrelpox virus that is associated with the decline of the red squirrel in the UK.
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