Alaskapox Explained: Alaska's First Deadly Viral Disease Case Reported

In late January, an elderly immunocompromised man from Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, succumbed to the disease.

Alaska health authorities confirmed the first fatality from the newly identified viral illness, Alaskapox.

An elderly man with a weakened immune system from Kenai Peninsula, just south of Anchorage, died from the disease in late January.

While receiving treatment, the man became one of just seven known Alaskapox cases, announced the Alaska Department of Public Health.

People need not worry but should be more informed," stated Julia Rogers, a state epidemiologist, as reported by the New York Post.

We aim to educate clinicians about Alaskapox virus to better recognize its signs and symptoms," she explained.

"Our goal is to increase clinician awareness of Alaskapox virus, enabling them to identify its signs and symptoms," she stated.

Diagnosing the fatal case took months. Authorities believe the patient's compromised immune system likely played a role in his death.

What is Alaskapox? Alaskapox is a double-stranded DNA virus, belonging to the same genus as smallpox, monkeypox, and cowpox.

First discovered in a Fairbanks, Alaska adult in 2015, Alaskapox primarily affects small mammals.

The State of Alaska's website states, "There has been no documented case of human-to-human transmission of the Alaskapox virus to date."

Given that some orthopoxviruses spread via direct contact with skin lesions, it's advised to cover any areas potentially affected by Alaskapox with a bandage.

Alaskapox symptoms often involve skin lesions (bumps or pustules), along with swollen lymph nodes, and joint or muscle pain.