The present study was conducted from November 2013 to May 2014 in areas where suspected pox disease outbreaks occurred in sheep and goats population. Skin lesion samples were collected from six different geographical areas with the aim of isolation and molecular characterization of the virus responsible for causing pox lesion in sheep and goats. The study was employed questionnaire, outbreak search, virus isolation, and genotyping methods. The questionnaire survey indicated that sheep and goat pox is the most common disease in all study areas and the disease is more frequent during rainy season followed by spring and autumn seasons. Purposive sampling method was used to get samples for laboratory investigation. A total of six pox suspected outbreaks were assessed for virus isolation and genotyping during the study period. Out of 102 sheep examined, 35 sheep (34.3%) developed pox lesions on their skins where as from 50 goats examined eight goats (16%) were found to be positive for pox. Virus was isolated from 14 skin samples (n=16; 14 sheep and 2 goat). The virus developed characteristic pox virus cytopathic effect of cell syncytia, ballooning, aggregation and detaching of cells on Vero cell culture. Similarly, the conventional genotyping PCR revealed 14 out of 16 tested samples were positive by developing band of 172 bp (Goat poxvirus) whereas two of them could not produce any band on gel electrophoresis. The real-time genotyping PCR analysis also indicated that 14 samples were properly amplified and genotyped as goat poxvirus only while 2 samples not. Even though the existing knowledge suggested that Capri pox virus is strictly host specific, this genotyping assay confirmed that sheep are affected by goat pox virus similar to goats. Classification of poxvirus based on infected host in small ruminants has been found to be inconclusive. Thus, genotyping of the isolates should be conducted carefully instead of naming the virus genotype based on the name of animals from which the samples has been collected. Hence, further genotyping studies are needed to differentiate sheep pox virus and goat pox virus with respect to their host specificity in order to select appropriate vaccine candidate and challenge virus for the control of pox in the small ruminants.



Ethiopia, genotyping, goat poxvirus,