Alaskan smallpox or AKPV claims its first life

Alaskan smallpox has its patient zero

A man who died from the new Alaskapox virus (AKPV) on the Kenai Peninsula in the United States became the first patient to have died from this disease, the Alaska Department of Health said on Friday, February 9.

The man had a weakened immune system due to cancer treatment. He was a lone dweller in a forested area and was in contact with a stray cat. According to the man, the cat would frequently leave scratch marks on his skin. The feline was tested negative for AKPV.

AKPV virus first discovered in 2015

The Alaskapox virus was discovered in the state in 2015. Its symptoms are similar to those of smallpox. The Alaskan smallpox infection has been confirmed in only six patients as of yet. All of them were reported in the Fairbanks area in central Alaska. All the infections were transmitted to humans from animals.

The virus primarily infects animals. Specialists believe that AKPV infections will be rare, whereas lethal outcomes among immunocompromised patients are not expected to be frequent either.

The virus is most likely transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus yet.

Local authorities tested small mammals for AKPV and found the virus mainly in red-backed voles and squirrels.

As long as AKPV incidence is still insignificant, epidemiologists don't know exactly how people may become infected with Alaskan smallpox.

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Author`s name Petr Ermilin
Editor Dmitry Sudakov