Home Health What Is Alaskapox Virus And How Fatal Is It: Symptoms, Ways Of Transmission And More

What Is Alaskapox Virus And How Fatal Is It: Symptoms, Ways Of Transmission And More

What Is Alaskapox Virus And How Fatal Is It: Symptoms, Ways Of Transmission And More


According to a bulletin last week from Alaska public health officials, an elderly man died from Alaskapox, which is the first known fatality from the recently discovered virus, state health officials said. The fatality has raised concerns in a world that recently battled the global pandemic due to the COVID-19 outbreak. So what is Alaskapox and should you be worried? Check out what experts have to say.

What Is The Alaskapox Virus

Alaskapox is a virus belonging to the Orthopox virus family, says Dr Monica Mahajan, Medical Director – Max Multi Speciality Hospital,  Panchsheel Park, Delhi. “We are familiar with smallpox which was the most notorious of these viruses and was subsequently eradicated from the entire world. There are others in the family, including the cowpox and monkeypox virus,” Dr Mahajan adds. Alaskapox virus or AKPV was discovered for the first time in a woman in 2015 in Alaska. Once the genome was identified, the taxonomy of the virus was given as AKPV.

How Alaskapox Virus Get Tramitted

Dr Mahajan says the AKPV is transmitted among small mammals and humans have reported isolated cases of this virus. A report in the wire agency AP mentions that it’s unclear how AKPV is transmitted but researchers say it may be zoonotic, meaning it can jump from animals to humans. The bulletin from Alaska public health officials said that tests found evidence of current or previous infection in several species of small mammals in the Fairbanks area, including red-backed voles, and at least one domestic pet. The man said he had cared for a stray cat at his home, the bulletin said. The cat tested negative for the virus but it “regularly hunted small mammals and frequently scratched the patient,” the bulletin said. That opens the possibility that the cat had the virus on its claws when it scratched him. Dr Mahajan says, “He did have scratches from a stray cat, but whether that resulted in death due to Alaskapox remains debatable.”

Alaskapox Virus: Symptoms

Symptoms can include a rash, swollen lymph nodes and joint or muscle pain. Only six other cases of the virus have been reported to Alaska health officials since the first one in 2015. All involved people were living in the Fairbanks area, more than 300 miles (483 kilometres) from the Kenai Peninsula, health officials said. All had mild cases and recovered without being hospitalized. The man who died “resided alone in a forested area and reported no recent travel and no close contacts with recent travel, illness, or similar lesions,” the health bulletin said.

Alaskapox: Should You Be Worried?

Dr Mahajan said that the man who died “probably had Alaskapox disease, but that was not cause enough for him to be dying.” She adds, “As of now, there is no reason for alarm. Only 7 cases have been identified so far by the Alaskan authorities. A man died but he had underlying cancer and died of kidney failure because of his immune-compromised state.” She also mentions that as of now, there’s no case of AKPV in India.

The man, who lived in the remote Kenai Peninsula, was hospitalised last November and died in late January, according to a bulletin last week from Alaska public health officials. The man was undergoing cancer treatment and had a suppressed immune system because of the drugs, which may have contributed to the severity of his illness, the bulletin said. It described him as elderly but didn’t provide his age.

Also Read: Ischemic Cerebrovascular Stroke: Mithun Chakraborty Was Recently Diagnosed With It – Know Symptoms, Dos And Don’ts

Alaskapox: Preventive Measures

Health officials in Alaska said there hasn’t been any documented cases of humans passing on the virus but they recommended people with skin lesions possibly caused by Alaskapox to cover the affected area with a bandage.” Other suggestions are thoroughly washing hands, avoid sharing clothing that might have touched the lesions and to launder clothing and sheets separately from other household items. Health authorities also urged Alaskans to follow federal health precautions when around wildlife to avoid potential Alaskapox infections.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water after contacting wild animals or their feces. Hunters should always wear gloves when handling dead animals, even if they are freshly killed, the agency suggests.

(With Inputs From AP)


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