Zoonotic Infections of Buffalopox in India


R. K. Singh. National Research Centre on Equines, Sirsa Road, Hisar 125001, Haryana, India. Tel.: +91 1662 275787; Fax: +91 1662 276217; E-mail: rks_virology@rediffmail.com


Four outbreaks of buffalopox in domestic buffaloes, with considerable mortality with high case fatality rates in young buffalo calves and high morbidity with significant productivity loss in terms of reduction in milk yield in adult animals along with severe zoonotic infection in milk attendants were recorded at various places in India, during 2006–2008. In buffaloes, the pox lesions were confined to udder and teats of the majority of the affected animals, and in few animals the lesions were appeared on the hindquarters, indicating generalized infection. The overall disease morbidity, mortality and case fatality rate were 6.8%, 0.7% and 11.4% respectively. Milkers developed pox-like lesions on the hands, forearms and forehead accompanied by fever, axillary lymphadenopathy and general malaise. The causative agent of the outbreaks, buffalopox virus (BPXV), was confirmed upon virus isolation in cell culture, electron microscopy, A-type inclusion (ATI) and ankyrin repeat protein (C18L) gene-specific polymerase chain reactions (PCR). Further, sequence analysis of the BPXV isolates from human and buffalo showed more identity of ATI and C18L genes sequences with that of other orthopoxviruses at nucleotide and amino acid levels and confirmed a close relationship of BPXV with Vaccinia virus (VACV) or VACV-like viruses. Considering the zoonotic impact and productivity losses of buffalopox infection, the control measures are imperative in curtailing economic and public health impact of the disease.