Buffalopox virus (BPXV) is the cause of buffalopox, which was recognized by the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Zoonosis as an important zoonotic disease. Buffalopox was first described in India, later in other countries, and has become an emerging contagious viral zoonotic disease infecting milkers with high morbidity among affected domestic buffalo and cattle. BPXV is a member of the genus Orthopoxvirus
and a close variant of the vaccinia virus (VACV). Recent genome data show that BPXV shares a most recent common ancestor of VACV Lister strain, which had been used for inoculating buffalo calves to produce a Smallpox vaccine. Over time, VACV evolved into BPXV by establishing itself in buffaloes to be increasingly pathogenic to this host and to make infections in cattle and humans. Together with the current pandemic of SARS-COV2/COVID 19, BPXV infections illustrate how vulnerable the human population is to the emergence and re-emergence of viral pathogens from unsuspected sources. In view that majority of the world population are not vaccinated against smallpox and are most vulnerable in the event of its re-emergence, reviewing and understanding the biology of vaccinia-like viruses are necessary for developing a new generation of safer smallpox vaccines in the smallpox-free world.
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