FELINE COWPOX CLINICAL SIGNS
Usually first presented for veterinary attention with widespread
Further examination may reveal that cat originally had a single
skin lesion usually on the head, neck or a forelimb. These primary lesions vary
in character from large abscesses or areas of cellulitis to small, scabbed papules
or rodent-ulcer-like lesions. However, many owners describe primary lesions having
developed from a small, bite-like wound.
The widespread secondary skin lesions develop a few days to weeks
(average, 10 days) after primary lesion is first noticed. Secondary lesions first
appear small, randomly distributed erythematous nodules, which over 3-5 days
develop into ulcerated papules up to 1 cm diameter. These quickly
The lesions are often not pruritic, but may be if secondarily infected
or when healing.
The scabs dry and separate after a further 2-3 weeks. New hair
soon grows and most cats are completely recovered in 6-8 weeks.
Approximately one in five cats may also develop a mild, serous
nasal charge, conjunctivitis or transient diarrhoea, and some cats may be depressed
More severe or chronic systemic signs, or delayed healing of skin
lesions result from secondary bacterial infection, especially of the primary
lesion, or immunodeficiency either from corticosteroid treatment, severe concurrent
disease (e.g. chronic renal failure) or infection with feline leukaemia virus
or feline immunodeficiency virus.
Severe systemic signs, particularly evidence of pneumonia or in
conjunction with underlying immunosuppressive disease, suggest a poor prognosis,
and euthanasia might be considered.
Cowpox in exotic and big cats
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