Poxvirus (PXV) infections are a common cause of cutaneous signs. In France, certain forms of poxvirus are frequent and benign (molluscum contagiosum), while others are rare but potentially serious (cowpox virus [CPXV]). Whereas only smallpox and molluscum contagiosum viruses have a human reservoir and are transmitted between humans, most poxvirus infections are zoonoses having only animal reservoirs. Only a small number of poxviruses are responsible for infection in humans, but the increasing number of new pets, some of which are exotic, coupled with the rapid rise in international travel are creating a greater risk of transmission of zoonotic PXV to new vectors and of spread of these diseases to new regions throughout the world. In France, molluscum contagiosum, orf and milkers' nodule give rise to numerous consultations and are well known to dermatologists. However, dermatologists must also be able to identify other parapoxviruses of similar presentation to orf; thus, CPXV and monkeypox are considered potentially emergent viruses with a high risk of epidemic and spread due to increasing international transport and the loss of the maximum protection against smallpox. Finally, despite its declared eradication, smallpox is currently being monitored because of the potential risk of reintroduction, whether accidentally or deliberately through bioterrorism.