Contagious ecthyma (CE) is reported in bighorn sheep (Ovis c. canadensis) from several national parks in western Canada and in mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) from Kootenay National Park, British Columbia. (This is the first report of CE in mountain goat.) Diagnosis was based on clinical signs, histopathology, transmission experiments and the demonstration of a poxvirus with the electron microscope. The infection was transmitted from wild to domestic goat, but not to domestic sheep.

Most infections, some of them severe, were found in lambs and kids. Clinical signs of disease were similar to those seen in domestic sheep and goats. General body condition was poor and animals had difficulty feeding normally.

All infected herds had prolonged contact with areas where salt was provided artificially (i.e., salt blocks, highways and campgrounds). Fewer infected sheep were observed annually when salt blocks were removed from Jasper National Park.

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Author notes


Supported in part by National Research Council of Canada Operating Grant No. A-6603.


Department of Zoology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Alberta Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Services Branch, Lethbridge.


Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton.


Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta.


Department of Microbiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton.