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A Mysterious Rare Virus Called Alaskapox First Surfaced In 2015, And Since Then, 7 Cases Have Been Reported

jenyateua - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

After a mysterious rare virus called Alaskapox caused an elderly man to die, public health professionals are closely monitoring the effects and spread of the illness. The man’s death has become the first known fatality linked to Alaskapox.

The virus was first identified in 2015. Since then, seven cases of Alaskapox have been reported. They were limited to the state of Alaska.

The most recent one was diagnosed in an elderly man on the Kenai Peninsula, who died in January. The Alaska Department of Health stated that this is the first time a severe Alaskapox infection has resulted in death.

Officials noted that the man had been undergoing cancer treatment that had weakened his immune system, leaving him in a vulnerable condition, which likely contributed to the severity of his illness.

Experts say that Alaskapox has been associated with mild symptoms, such as skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, and joint or muscle pain.

It typically clears up after a few weeks, but immunocompromised people might be at heightened risk of experiencing complications from the virus.

The virus is most commonly found in small mammal populations throughout Alaska, like red-backed voles, shrews, and red squirrels.

Infections remain rare in humans. Although humans can catch the virus from animals, there has been no documentation of humans transmitting it to each other so far.

Alaskapox belongs to the orthopox group, which includes viruses such as smallpox that are characterized by the way they cause the body to develop skin lesions.

jenyateua – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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