Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


fowlpox virus



fowlpox virus


  • Last modified
  • 03 December 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • fowlpox virus
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Virus
  •   Group: "ssDNA viruses"
  •     Group: "DNA viruses"
  •       Family: Poxviridae
  •         Subfamily: Chordopoxvirinae

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report


Top of page
Thin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat.
TitleMature pox virus particle
CaptionThin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat.
CopyrightNatàlia Majó Masferror
Thin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat.
Mature pox virus particleThin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat. Natàlia Majó Masferror


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • fowlpox virus

International Common Names

  • English: avipoxvirus; canarypox virus; fowl pox virus; juncopox virus; pigeonpox virus; psittacinepox virus; quailpox virus; sparrowpox virus; starlingpox virus; turkeypox virus

English acronym

  • FWPV

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Virus
  •     Group: "ssDNA viruses"
  •         Group: "DNA viruses"
  •             Family: Poxviridae
  •                 Subfamily: Chordopoxvirinae
  •                     Genus: Avipoxvirus
  •                         Species: fowlpox virus

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


Cabo VerdePresent
Côte d'IvoirePresent
MauritiusAbsent, No presence record(s)
São Tomé and PríncipePresent
SeychellesAbsent, No presence record(s)
South AfricaPresent


ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
Hong KongPresent
KazakhstanAbsent, No presence record(s)
MalaysiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent
MongoliaAbsent, No presence record(s)
South KoreaPresent
Sri LankaPresent
SyriaAbsent, No presence record(s)
TajikistanAbsent, No presence record(s)
United Arab EmiratesPresent


AndorraAbsent, No presence record(s)
AustriaAbsent, No presence record(s)
BelgiumAbsent, No presence record(s)
Bosnia and HerzegovinaAbsent, No presence record(s)
EstoniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
FinlandAbsent, No presence record(s)
IcelandAbsent, No presence record(s)
Isle of ManAbsent, No presence record(s)
JerseyAbsent, No presence record(s)
LatviaAbsent, No presence record(s)
LiechtensteinAbsent, No presence record(s)
LithuaniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
North MacedoniaPresent
NorwayAbsent, No presence record(s)
PolandAbsent, No presence record(s)
Serbia and MontenegroAbsent, No presence record(s)
SloveniaAbsent, No presence record(s)
SwedenAbsent, No presence record(s)
United KingdomPresent

North America

BermudaAbsent, No presence record(s)
CuraçaoAbsent, No presence record(s)
Dominican RepublicPresent
HaitiAbsent, No presence record(s)
Saint Kitts and NevisAbsent, No presence record(s)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent
Trinidad and TobagoPresent
United StatesPresent


French PolynesiaPresent
New CaledoniaPresent
New ZealandPresent
VanuatuAbsent, No presence record(s)

South America

Falkland IslandsAbsent, No presence record(s)
French GuianaAbsent, No presence record(s)
GuyanaAbsent, No presence record(s)

Pathogen Characteristics

Top of page

All the avipoxviruses show identical morphology, with the mature virus being brick-shaped and measuring approximately 250x350 nm. It consists of a centrally located biconcave core and two lateral bodies in each concavity (see pictures). The outer coat is composed of randomly distributed surface tubules (Tripathy and Reed, 1997).

Pox viruses are synthesized and packed in the cell cytoplasm and the process of replication is similar in the dermal or follicular epithelium of chickens, ectodermal cells of the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM), and embryo skin cells. Replication of fowlpox virus in dermal epithelium involves two distinct phases, which are a host response characterized by marked cellular hyperplasia during the first 72 hours and synthesis of the infectious virus from 72 to 96 hours (Cheevers et al., 1968). The morphogenesis of fowlpox virus has recently been revised (Boulanger et al., 2000). After adsorption and penetration of the cell membrane, one or two hours after infection of dermal epithelium or CAM respectively, viral particles uncoat. At 48 h post infection, viral particles with incomplete membranes are observed in the cytoplasm. The release of fowlpox virus as an extracellular virus appears to be proceeded by budding or by fusion of intracellular enveloped virus with the plasma membrane. Actin filaments are involved in the release of the viral particles from the plasma membrane.

The genome of the fowlpox virus, the type species of the avipoxviruses, is composed of a single double-stranded DNA molecule of approximately 254 to 300 Kb. The molecular weight of this genome is about 160-185 x 106 Dalton and the G+C content of fowlpox virus DNA is about 35% (Tripathy and Reed, 1997). Fifty-seven major structural polypeptides have been identified in purified fowlpox virus preparations (Prideaux and Boyle, 1987). Many studies on fowlpox virus nucleotide and amino acid sequences have been conducted in recent years (Boyle and Coupar, 1986; Binns et al., 1987; Laidlaw et al., 1998; Pollitt et al., 1998; Ma et al., 1999). This is due to the increasing importance of this virus as a viral vector for recombinant vaccines.

Although resistance to ether is one of the characteristics of pox viruses, sensitivity to both ether and chloroform has been reported for some fowlpox virus strains (Tantwai et al., 1979; Pradhan et al., 1996). Fowlpox virus is known to withstand 1% phenol and 1:1000 formalin for 9 days, but it is inactivated by 1% potassium hydroxide when freed from its matrix. Heating at 50ºC for 30 minutes or 60ºC for 8 minutes also inactivates the virus. An important point in understanding its high level of transmission is that this virus, when desiccated, shows marked resistance and can survive in dried scabs for a long period of time (Tripathy and Reed, 1997).

Avian pox viruses may propagate in different laboratory host systems including birds, avian embryos and cell cultures. In avian embryos, infection by avipoxviruses results in compact, proliferative, white pock lesions that may be focal or diffuse in the CAM (see pictures). Histological examination of these pock lesions reveals typical intracytoplasmic inclusions characteristic of all pox viruses (see pictures). Avian pox viruses can also be propagated in cell cultures of avian origin, such as chicken embryo fibroblasts, chicken embryo dermis, chicken embryo kidney cells and duck embryo fibroblasts. Viral infection in chicken fibroblasts causes cell rounding followed by cell degeneration and necrosis.

Avian pox viruses are antigenically and immunologically distinguishable from each other, but varying degrees of antigenic relationship do exist. Information on the characterization of pox viruses from wild birds and their relationship to a recognized Avipoxvirus is scarce.

Recently, some pox virus strains have been isolated in the United States from vaccinated flocks experiencing high mortality due to the diphtheric or cutaneous forms of fowlpox. Currently available vaccines are not effective in controlling the disease caused by these ‘variant’ strains of pox virus (Fatunmbi and Reed, 1996a, b).

Disease(s) associated with this pathogen is/are on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The distribution section contains data from OIE's Handistatus database on disease occurrence. Please see the AHPC library for further information from OIE, including the International Animal Health Code and the Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines. Also see the website:

Host Animals

Top of page
Animal nameContextLife stageSystem
AccipitridaeExperimental settings; Wild host
AlcidaeWild host
AnatidaeExperimental settings; Wild host
ApodiformesWild host
CharadriiformesWild host
CiconiiformesWild host
ColumbiformesDomesticated host; Experimental settings; Wild host
FalconiformesDomesticated host; Wild host
GalliformesDomesticated host; Experimental settings; Wild host
Gallus gallus domesticus (chickens)Domesticated host
GruiformesWild host
LaridaeWild host
Meleagris gallopavo (turkey)Domesticated host
OtidaeWild host
PasseriformesDomesticated host; Experimental settings; Wild host
PelicaniformesWild host
PhasianidaeDomesticated host; Experimental settings; Wild host
PiciformesWild host
PodicipediformesWild host
ProcellariiformesWild host
PsittaciformesDomesticated host; Experimental settings; Wild host
RallidaeWild host
SphenisciformesWild host
StrigiformesExperimental settings; Wild host
StruthioniformesDomesticated host
UpupidaeWild host

Vectors and Intermediate Hosts

Top of page
Alphitobius diaperinusInsect
Dermanyssus gallinaeMite
Echidnophaga gallinaceaInsect


Top of page

Binns MM et al., 1987. Identification by a random sequencing strategy of fowl poxvirus DNA polymerase gene, its nucleotide sequence and comparison with other viral DNA polymerases. Nucleic Acid Research, 15:6563-6573.

Boulanger D; Smith T; Skinner MA, 2000. Morphogenesis and release of fowlpox virus. Journal of General Virology, 81(3):675-687; 54 ref.

Boyle DB; Coupar BEH, 1986. Identification and cloning of the fowlpox virus thymidine kinase gene using vaccinia virus. Journal of General Virology, 67(8):1591-1600; 32 ref.

Cheevers WP; O'Callaghan DJ; Randall CC, 1968. Biosynthesis of host and viral deoxyribonucleic acid during hyperplastic fowlpox infection in vivo. Journal of Virology, 2:421-429.

Fatunmbi OO; Reed WM, 1996. Evaluation of a commercial modified live virus fowl pox vaccine for the control of "variant" fowl poxvirus infections. Avian Diseases, 40(3):582-587; 13 ref.

Fatunmbi OO; Reed WM, 1996. Evaluation of a commercial quail pox vaccine (Bio-Pox Q) for the control of "variant" fowl poxvirus infections. Avian Diseases, 40(4):792-797; 12 ref.

Laidlaw SM; Anwar MA; Thomas W; Green P; Shaw K; Skinner MA, 1998. Fowlpox virus encodes nonessential homologs of cellular alpha-SNAP, PC-1, and an orphan human homolog of a secreted nematode protein. Journal of Virology, 72(8):6742-6751; 72 ref.

Ma FengLong; Jin NingYi; Liu XiaoMing; Si XingKui; Gu WanJun; Yin Zhen, 1999. Restriction maps and sequence analysis of partial representative Bam HI fragments in the FPV 282E strain. Chinese Journal of Veterinary Science, 19(3):233-236; 8 ref.

OIE Handistatus, 2002. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (dataset for 2001). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE Handistatus, 2003. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (dataset for 2002). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE Handistatus, 2004. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (data set for 2003). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE Handistatus, 2005. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (data set for 2004). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

Pollitt E; Skinner MA; Heaphy S, 1998. Nucleotide sequence of the 4.3 kbp BamHI-N fragment of fowl pox virus FP9. Virus Genes, 17(1):5-9; 35 ref.

Pradhan SK; Kataria JM; Verma KC; Jadhao SJ, 1996. Physico-chemical and biological characterization of an Indian isolate of quail poxvirus. Indian Journal of Comparative Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, 17(2):101-108; 32 ref.

Prideaux CT; Boyle DB, 1987. Fowlpox virus polypeptides: sequential appearance and virion associated polypeptides. Archives of Virology, 96(3/4):185-199; 26 ref.

Tantwai HH; Al Falluji MM; Shony MO, 1979. Heat-selected mutants of pigeon poxvirus. Acta Virologica, 23:249-252.

Tripathy DM; Reed WM, 1997. Pox. In: Calnek BW, Barnes HJ, Beard CW, Reid WM, Yoder HW, eds. Diseases of Poultry. Ames, Iowa, USA: Iowa University Press, 643-659.

Distribution References

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

OIE Handistatus, 2005. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (dataset for 2004)., Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map
Select a dataset
Map Legends
  • CABI Summary Records
Map Filters
Third party data sources: