First Death Reported from Alaskapox Virus

Posted on February 11, 2024

The first human death from the recently discovered Alaskapox virus (AKPV) has been reported. The man lived in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

The virus is part of the family of diseases that include monkeypox and smallpox. It was discovered in 2015. There have been seven human infections so far according to Anchorage Daily News. Infections are small and some human cases may be going unnoticed. The previous AKPV cases produced only mild symptoms.

A FAQ about the virus from the Alaska Division of Public Health shows some images of Alaskapox skin lesions. It says, "We are not sure exactly how the virus spreads from animals to people but contact with small mammals and potentially domestic pets who come into contact small wild mammals could play a role."

The man who died in early January was elderly and immunocompromised. A report from Alaska Public Media says the man had been feeding a stray cat that frequently scratched him but the cat tested negative for AKPV. Epidemiologists suspect the virus is primarily spread from animals to humans.

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