|Group:||Group I (dsDNA)|
Parapoxviruses belong to the Poxviridae family. Like all members of that family, they are oval, relatively large, double-stranded DNA viruses. Parapoxviruses have a unique spiral coat that distinguishes them from other poxviruses. Parapoxviruses infect vertebrates.
The most recent species of parapoxviruses has been found in New Zealand Red Deer. There are also some tentative species in the genus, including Auzduk disease virus, Chamois contagious ecthyma virus, and Sealpox virus.
Parapoxviruses cause infection of cows, sheep, goats, and red squirrels worldwide. They tend to cause lesions that range in size depending on the case. Between 1990 and 1995, there was a mean of 15 cases reported annually. This is a significant decline from the annual mean of 46 cases between 1968 and 1978.
Some authors believe that the infection is much more common than reported, as it may not appear to be a serious infection.
Most reports indicate a higher frequency of human infections during the spring and autumn, presumably due to the seasonal slaughtering of susceptible animals. However, others show a higher occurrence in winter. This may be attributed to the use of gorse, an animal feed that may cause trauma, thereby leading to infection.