Alaskapox: Eldery Man in Alaska Dies from Recently Discovered Virus
An elderly man in Alaska has become the first recorded patient to die from a virus called “Alaskapox,” which is closely related to smallpox. It is believed that the man contracted the virus from a cat scratch.
The virus, also known as AKPV, is thought to have spread from small rodents to humans, causing mild discomfort such as small skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle pain. Since it was first observed by scientists in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2015, only seven cases of infection have been reported. The man who died from AKPV had a weakened immune system and was being treated for cancer, which led to complications after contracting a skin infection. This ultimately caused kidney failure and led to his death in late January. The elderly man lived alone in a remote part of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and was thought to have been infected after being scratched by a stray cat, according to authorities.
There is no evidence that AKPV can be transmitted between humans, but health officials in Alaska recommended covering skin lesions with bandages as an extra precaution. The Alaska Department of Health also warned that pets such as cats and dogs “may play a role in spreading the virus.” Scientists have not yet determined the main method of transmission of the pathogen. Although it was first discovered about 10 years ago, it is thought that Alaskapox may have been circulating “long before that” due to its mild nature, meaning most infections are missed.
The discovery and spread of Alaskapox raises concerns about the potential for future outbreaks and highlights the need for further research and public health measures to prevent the transmission of this newly identified virus.