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Feline Cowpox Infection

Despite their name, cowpoxviruses affect a number of different species and are found in Europe and Asia. Wild rodents are the reservoir, and hunting cats may be infected from their prey. This report describes a case of cowpox infection in a cat and transmission to a caretaker. A shelter cat in Germany was treated for facial dermatitis, but the lesions worsened despite use of a variety of therapeutics. Because of this, the cat was euthanized; cowpoxvirus with systemic involvement was found on post mortem examination. Two weeks before euthanasia, a caretaker at the shelter was scratched by the cat on his hand, and developed an infection unresponsive to antibiotics. Cowpoxvirus infection was diagnosed retrospectively based on serum testing of the caretaker. In parts of the world where cowpoxvirus infection occurs, it should be included in the list of differentials for ulcerative skin lesions in outdoor cats and the people in contact with them. [MK]