This week the BBC News shared a bizarre story of a teen who recently contracted cowpox on his hands after the calves he was feeding nibbled on his hands. The incident, which happened three months ago in Wales, was recently disclosed by a researcher at the European Society for Pediatric Dermatology in London.
A viral disease in cattle, cowpox is essentially considered to be a disease of the past in humans, since few farmers milk by hand anymore. Penned as a milkmaid disease — since it can be contracted by milkers — humans will develop a pustular eruption on the hands, forearms or face, accompanied by slight fever and lymphadenitis. The boy in this case developed pus-filled lesions on his hands, arms, and feet.
While rare cases have been reported from Europe and Asia, cowpox was identified in the United States in 2010, when a student laboratory worker at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign contracted the virus in the lab.
The researcher had not worked with cowpox virus, but samples were stored in a freezer in the lab. An investigation into the incident showed three samples from the lab’s surfaces tested positive for the virus. The lesion, on the worker’s hand, took nearly three months to heal, and the diagnosis even longer.
The teen’s mother told BBC News the boy, who is quite embarrassed by the whole ordeal, still has some marks on his hands.