Here’s What You Should Know About Alaskapox
Alaska has confirmed the death of an elderly man after he contracted Alaskapox. The man, a native of Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage was undergoing treatment when he succumbed to the illness in late January, health officials have said. The man who died of the viral disease was one of the seven people who were infected with the deadly infection.
The elderly man earlier tested positive for cowpox, however, additional testing revealed he had contracted Alaskapox as well. He died after suffering from kidney and respiratory failure.
According to the news reports, it took months for the case to be diagnosed and the authorities say that the patient’s immunocompromised condition may have contributed to his death. However, it is still unclear as to how he contracted the disease. The man is said to have lived in the woods alone and did not travel. Health officials believe that he might have contracted the viral disease from his cat which often hunted small mammals. The animal scratched him when his symptoms began. Although the cat tested negative for the virus, officials believe it could have spread from its claws.
What is Alaskapox?
Alaskapox is a double-stranded-DNA virus comes from the same genus as smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox. It was first identified in an adult in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2015, and is most common in small mammals.
State of Alaska’s website states, “To date, no human-to-human transmission of Alaskapox virus has been documented. However, since certain orthopoxviruses can be transmitted through direct contact with skin lesions, we recommend that people with skin lesions possibly caused by Alaskapox keep the affected area covered with a bandage.”
Signs and symptoms of Alaskapox virus
Here are some of the symptoms of the viral disease as shared by the Alaska Department of Health.
“People with Alaskapox have had one or more skin lesions and other symptoms like swollen lymph nodes and joint or muscle pain. Several Alaskapox patients initially thought they had a spider or insect bite. Nearly all patients had mild illnesses that resolved on their own after a few weeks. There has been one patient with an immunocompromising condition that developed severe disease and died after prolonged illness.”
Spreading of the virus
Alaska’s state health website says that while human-to-human transmission of AKPV has not yet been observed, some orthopoxviruses can spread by direct contact with lesions (particularly broken skin contact with lesion secretions). “Therefore, we advise individuals with skin lesions potentially caused by Alaskapox to keep the affected area covered with a bandage and avoid sharing bedding or other linens that have come into contact with the lesion.”