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First Death Due to Alaskapox Reported: What Is It? How Does It Spread?

A recent case of fatality due to a rare, yet known, virus in Alaska, has put health officials in the US state on alert.

The virus was first discovered in Alaska in 2015 and is transmitted to humans from small mammals, including rodents. However, this is the first time it has caused death.

Although no specific details about the deceased have been released, we know that he was an elderly man.

According to a recent bulletin from Alaska health officials, the deceased, a resident of the remote Kenai Peninsula, was admitted to the hospital in November 2023, and passed away in late January 2024.

According to the Alaska Department of Health, Alaskapox is a type of orthopox virus – a genus of DNA viruses that infect humans and animals, particularly mammals.

The first reported case of Alaskapox was in a man from the Fairbanks region in 2015. Since then, six additional cases have been documented, all residents of the same area.

In Alaska, the virus has primarily been found in small mammals like red-backed voles and shrews, although domestic pets such as dogs and cats may also harbour the virus, say experts.