What is Alaskapox?

Feb. 12, 2024

An elderly man from Alaska recently became the first person to die after contracting Alaskapox.

About Alaskapox:

  • It is an orthopox virus that was first discovered in Alaska, USA, in 2015.
  • It is a double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the same genus (Orthopoxvirus) as smallpox, monkeypox, and cowpox.
  • Orthopoxviruses are zoonotic viruses that can infect various mammals, including humans.
  • Current evidence indicates that the Alaskapox virus primarily occurs in small mammals. The virus has been most commonly identified in red-backed voles and shrews.
  • Signs and Symptoms:
    • Symptoms of Alaskapox include one or more skin lesions (bumps or pustules) and other symptoms like swollen lymph nodes and joint and/or muscle pain.
    • Nearly all patients had mild illnesses that resolved on their own after a few weeks.
    • Immunocompromised people might be at increased risk for more severe illness.
  • Can people with Alaskapox infect other people?
    • While human-to-human transmission of Alaskapox has not yet been observed, some orthopoxviruses can spread by direct contact with lesions (particularly broken skin contact with lesion secretions).