One may prevent infection with cowpox virus by avoiding exposure to sick cats or other sick animals. Recombinant vaccines against cowpox are being studied in mice and may eventually be available for human use.
Because cowpox is generally a self-limited disease, treatment is largely supportive. Patients often do not feel well and require bed rest or, occasionally, hospitalization.
Antiviral medications are not routinely used in cases of human cowpox, nor are antibiotics given unless the patient has developed a secondary bacterial infection. However, studies in mice suggest a role for the viral DNA polymerase inhibitor cidofovir, given parenterally, topically, or in an aerosolized form, for disseminated cases of cowpox.
Symptoms and Outcome:
Infection with cowpox virus in humans produces localized, pustular lesions at the site of their introduction into the skin.
The lesion is similar to that caused by vaccination, although the inflammatory response is greater. The lesions in humans usually appear on the hands: on the thumbs, the first inter-digital cleft, and the forefinger.
Fever and myalgia may be present in some cases, but this is rare. Secondary lesions occur only in individuals with immunological deficiencies.
Management and Prevention:
Human cowpox usually responds to treatment with antivaccina immunoglobulin. However, this should be restricted to the most severe cases. Usually, the lesions regress spontaneously.
Identification and isolation of animals infected with cowpox can help decrease the incidence of human infections.
Attention to the newly emerging prevalence of cowpox virus among domestic cats and subsequent, directive action can also help reduce the number of human infections. Proper hand washing, as with most viruses, is also recommended