Sheep and goat pox (SGP) are contagious viral diseases of small ruminants.

Causative agent

Sheep pox and goat pox result from infection by sheeppox virus (SPV) or goatpox virus (GPV), closely related members of the Capripox genus in the family Poxviridae.


The disease is found in most of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.


SGP may be mild in indigenous breeds living in endemic areas, but can be fatal for newly introduced animals. Economic losses result from fall in milk production and decreased quality of hides and wool. Sheep and goat pox can limit trade and prevent the development of intensive livestock production. The total yearly cost of the disease is estimated to be US $48 million.


SPV and GPV are transmitted by close contact through mucous membranes and abraded skin. Viruses are shed in milk, urine, faeces, skin lesions and their scabs, saliva, nasal and conjunctival secretions. SPV and GPV can also be spread on fomites or transmitted mechanically by insects such as stable flies. These viruses can remain infectious for up to six months in shaded stables.

Clinical signs

The incubation period is four to 21 days. In affected animals, an initial fever is usually followed by the characteristic skin lesions, which develop into hard papules with scabs. The lesions can develop on mucous membranes and internal organs, causing respiratory signs, diarrhoea and sometimes abortion.


There is no treatment for SGP, but vaccines are available to control sheep and goat pox in endemic areas.

For further information, view our SGP product development work.