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Any of a group of viruses responsible for a wide range of pox diseases in humans and other animals. Poxvirus was the cause of smallpox. (Human chickenpox is caused by varicella-zoster virus.) The virus particle is somewhat brick-shaped, and its surface is studded with hollow spikes. It contains DNA. Unlike other DNA viruses, poxviruses appear to develop entirely within the cytoplasm of affected cells. The virus of rabbitpox has been used with mixed success in Australia to control the wild rabbit population.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on poxvirus, visit Britannica.com.