Have you ever heard about cowpox? Me neither, until I heard this story.
At the European Society for Pediatric Dermatology gathering in London, researchers have shared a case of cowpox contracted by a teenage boy in Wales that happened 3 months ago.
Teenager Diagnosed with Cowpox
The boy was doing his daily chores, milking and feeding the cows, when two calves nibbled on his hands to the point they grazed skin off. Unphased by the incident, the teen didn’t think much of it. Soon after, however, he developed lesions (itchy, pus-filled marks) on his hands, arms and feet.
According to his mother, they were completely unsure of what it was, but one of the lesions on his ankle caused them more concern. After a visit to their doctor, the teen was rushed to the hospital for the official diagnosis. It was cowpox.
What is Cowpox?
Cowpox, for the most part, is a disease of history. Though there are occasional cases pop up in Europe and Asia, it is extremely rare. The number of human cases over the last few generations is borderline insignificant, with the last cases occurring in Wales 10 and 15 years ago. Since hand milking is more rare nowadays, the disease usually pops up among vets and zoo workers.
The last time the disease made the news was in 2011 when a student lab worked contracted the virus due to lab contamination at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The last natural case occurred in 1977, in Somalia. In 1980 the World Health Organization declared that the disease has officially eradicated in the wild.
“Cowpox is quite unusual and, as the doctors note, when you look at a pox-like rash on a child these days the first thing that tends to spring to mind is chicken pox,” a spokesman said.
Unlike the chicken pox, however, Cowpox is not contagious person-to-person.
Cowpox is not overly dangerous in general. The teenager has recovered since the infection, though left with a few pox scars. People with an overall healthy immune system fight off the disease without the need of much medical attention. Though an uncomfortable few weeks, perhaps a month if a bad case, cowpox is not lethal and is extremely rare.
Despite this case, you have nothing to worry about. As far as doctors and scientists can tell, there is no new epidemic on the horizon.