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Alaska Man Dies From Novel Animal-Borne Virus

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The first fatality from Alaskapox, an orthopoxvirus, has been reported in Alaska.

An elderly man with a weakened immune system contracted the virus, likely from an infected stray cat.

“This is the first case of severe Alaskapox infection resulting in hospitalization and death,” a bulletin read.

“The patient’s immunocompromised status likely contributed to illness severity.”

There are no specific medications for Alaskapox, and it’s unlikely to spread to other states.

“I think it’s something we all should be aware of, but it’s not something that presents a major public health disaster,” Glatt said.

The virus, transmitted between people and animals, is spread by small mammals in wooded areas.

“It’s usually a very mild infection, but there’s the potential that it could be more serious in the immunocompromised,” Glatt said.

“It is likely that the virus is present more broadly in Alaska’s small mammals and that more infections in humans have occurred but were not identified,” the ADPH stated.

“More animal testing is occurring to better understand the distribution of the virus in animal populations throughout Alaska.”

“I’m sure that some of the other viral agents that have been used for monkeypox could theoretically have some benefit, but to my knowledge, nobody has tried that,” he said.

The virus may be more widespread than previously thought, and the state is conducting testing.

If infected, people are advised to contact the Alaska Section of Epidemiology for testing and treatment.

“SOE is working with the University of Alaska Museum and CDC to test small mammals for AKPV outside the Interior region,” the ADPH stated.

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