Home » Recent death brings notice to Alaskapox Virus

Recent death brings notice to Alaskapox Virus

by damith
February 19, 2024 1:06 am 0 comment

Health officials in the American state of Alaska have known for nine years about a virus causing rare, mild illness. But a recent case that resulted in a man’s death has brought new attention to what is being called the Alaskapox Virus.

Here’s some background on the virus:

What is Alaskapox?

Alaskapox belongs to the family of orthopoxviruses that can infect animals and humans. These viruses usually cause lesions, or pox, on the skin. Some are more dangerous than others.

Smallpox is the best-known member of the orthopoxvirus family. Others include camelpox, cowpox, horsepox and mpox (formerly known as monkeypox).

Alaskapox was discovered in 2015 in a woman who lived near Fairbanks, Alaska. It mainly has been found in small mammals, including red-backed voles and shrews. But house animals, such as dogs and cats, can carry the virus, health officials say.

Alaskan health officials are advising anyone with an Alaskapox lesion to cover it with a bandage.

What happened in the latest case?

Alaska health officials say there have been seven people infected with Alaskapox since the virus was discovered. But the latest case represents the first time someone is known to have died from it.

The older man lived on the Kenai Peninsula. He was being treated for cancer and had a suppressed immune system because of the drugs. In September, he found a red sore under his right armpit and saw doctors over the next two months because of tiredness and burning pain. Alaska public health officials said he was hospitalized in November and died last month.

The man lived in a forested area away from any town and did not travel. They said he had been repeatedly scratched by a cat that hunted small animals, and one of the scratches was in the area of the man’s armpit, officials said.


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