Media in Wales are reporting a rare case of cowpox infection in a 15-year-old boy from the Wrexham-Cheshire border. This is the first such case in Wales in over a decade.
Apparently, the boy contracted the viral disease, which presented as lesions on his hands and later to his arms and feet, after feeding calves. He was diagnosed with the rare disease at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Cowpox is a zoonotic dermatitis affecting, despite its name, mainly cats and humans. The disease is caused by cowpox virus, a close relative to vaccinia, smallpox (variola), and monkeypox viruses.
Cowpox virus is not highly infective for humans and usually produces a localized lesion mainly on fingers, hands, or face. In immunocompromised persons, however, the disease may lead to death. The virus infects through skin abrasions, resulting in successive lesions of macular, papular, vesicular, pustular, ulceral, and eschar stages for 2 weeks. Systemic symptoms are also common. The reservoir hosts of cowpox are wild rodents; wild rodents may transmit the virus to humans through cats or other pets that roam outside.