Pseudocowpox Adventure May 2011

Early this spring I thought one of the milk cows was having an allergic reaction to fly bites. We don’t have too many horse flies out here in Arizona, but we do have flies. One day I noticed blisters up around the top of Sally cow’s front right teat. I put an ointment on the blisters and at the next milking found more on the front left teat. I also noticed little blisters around her legs down by the hoof. I thought she was having an allergic reaction to the fly bites so I ran up to the feed store the next morning and purchased a fly sheet. Sally was a good sport even though Cookie cow, my Jersey / Guernsey cross, kept laughing at her. For several days I’d put her fly sheet on during the day and take it off at night. The little blisters not only got worse, they also moved to the trunk of her body where she was covered by the fly sheet. Ok, now I was perplexed and dove into the Merck Veterinary Manual looking for symptoms and answers. The only thing that fit was pseudocowpox. My first thought was “This day and age??? Cowpoxs???” I called out the livestock vet and without telling him what I found, he looked at Sally and said.. “she has pseudocowpox, it’s a virus and will take from 3 to 6 weeks to heal up” He offered to take samples to the lab and told me to keep my hands washed well between milking Cookie and Sally so I didn’t spread it from Sally toCookie. It’s in the chickenpox family and luckily I’d already had chickenpox. He was right… within six weeks the blisters had all scabbed over and slowly healed up. I never did get blisters on my hands but apparently it was common in the old days for milk maids to get cowpox on their hands and even helped with the development of the small pox vaccine. See how great it is to have cows!!!

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