/kow"poks'/, n. Vet. Pathol.
an eruptive disease appearing on the teats and udders of cows, in which small pustules form that contain a virus used in the vaccination of humans against smallpox.
[1790-1800; COW1 + POX]

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also called  vaccinia 

      mildly eruptive disease of cows that when transmitted to otherwise healthy humans produces immunity to smallpox. The cowpox virus is closely related to variola, the causative virus of smallpox. The word vaccinia is sometimes used interchangeably with cowpox to refer to the human form of the disease, sometimes to refer to the causative virus, and sometimes to refer only to the artificially induced human form of cowpox.

      Cowpox disease, which is evident from the ulcers on the teats of cows, had been known as a disease of cows for hundreds of years; human cowpox occurred as a self-contained localized ulcer on the hands or at other sites where scratches or abrasions allowed entry of the virus. The preventive effect of vaccination, or intentional inoculation with the vaccinia virus, was demonstrated by Edward Jenner in 1796, following the observation that milkmaids who had been infected by cowpox during milking subsequently were immune to smallpox. During the 1980s, researchers discovered that rodents were also a natural reservoir for the virus, and that rodents, not cattle, were responsible for most cowpox infections in humans.

      The vaccinia virus used in modern vaccines, though descended from cowpox, differs genetically from the existing cowpox virus; this difference may be a result of documented contamination of earlier vaccine cultures with variola virus, creating a hybrid that still confers immunity to smallpox infection. Vaccinia, by the strictest definition, does not occur in nature but enters the body during vaccination; though this usually produces a self-limiting, local ulcer like cowpox infection, it can cause a systemic smallpox-like disease in patients whose immunity is compromised, and it has—though rarely—been found to cause encephalitis.

      With the disappearance of human smallpox by 1980, these risks have caused the discontinuation of routine vaccination on a population-wide basis.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cowpox — Classification and external resources ICD 10 B08.0 ICD 9 051.01 MeSH …   Wikipedia

  • cowpox — [kou′päks΄] n. a contagious viral disease of cows that causes pustules on the udders: people inoculated with a vaccine containing the virus of cowpox become temporarily immune to smallpox …   English World dictionary

  • Cowpox — Cow pox ( p[o^]ks ), n. (Med.) A pustular eruptive disease of the cow, which, when communicated to the human system, as by vaccination, protects from the smallpox; vaccinia; called also {kinepox}, {cowpock}, and {kinepock}. Dunglison. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cowpox — Enfermedad infecciosa pustulosa de los pezones de la vaca. Diccionario Mosby Medicina, Enfermería y Ciencias de la Salud, Ediciones Hancourt, S.A. 1999 …   Diccionario médico

  • cowpox — |caupócs| s. m. 2 núm. O mesmo que vacina.   ‣ Etimologia: de cow, vaca + pox, varíola …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • cowpox — cow·pox kau̇ .päks n a mild eruptive disease of the cow that is caused by a poxvirus of the genus Orthopoxvirus (species Cowpox virus) and that when communicated to humans protects against smallpox called also variola vaccinia * * * n. a virus… …   Medical dictionary

  • cowpox — noun Date: 1798 a mild eruptive disease of the cow that is caused by a poxvirus (species Cowpox virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus) and that when communicated to humans protects against smallpox …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Cowpox virus —   Cowpox virus Clasificación de los virus Grupo: I (Virus ADN …   Wikipedia Español

  • cowpox virus — a virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus that causes cowpox; it is closely related to vaccinia virus …   Medical dictionary

  • cowpox — noun A pustular, eruptive skin disease of cattle caused by an Orthopoxvirus, with lesions occurring principally on the udder and teats. Human infection may occur from touching cows, and gives immunity to smallpox …   Wiktionary

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