Alaskapox Virus: A Closer Look at the Emerging Threat and Its First Fatal Case


  • Introduction to the Alaskapox Virus
  • Recent Developments and First Death
  • Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
  • Preventive Measures and Public Health Response
  • Conclusion and Key Takeaways

The Alaskapox virus, a relatively new concern in the infectious disease landscape, has recently come under the spotlight due to the first reported death and its wider implications for public health. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Alaskapox, incorporating the latest developments, symptoms, management strategies, and efforts to curb its spread.

Introduction to the Alaskapox Virus

Alaskapox virus, identified within the Orthopoxvirus genus, has been known since its discovery in 2015. With only a few reported cases, its emergence has raised questions about zoonotic diseases and their impact on humans, especially in specific geographic locations like Alaska.

Recent Developments and First Death

In a concerning development, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE) reported the first death from Alaskapox virus (AKPV) in late January 2024, marking a significant milestone since the virus’s identification. This case, the first severe AKPV infection leading to hospitalization and death, highlights the virus’s potential severity, particularly in immunocompromised individuals. The mode of transmission remains uncertain, but speculation suggests that scratches from a stray cat could have been a potential route through fomite transmission.

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Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

The patient exhibited symptoms including severe neuropathic pain, a tender red papule, and later, complications such as malnutrition and acute renal failure. Despite being initially misdiagnosed and experiencing extensive myositis, the patient was treated with antivirals and immunoglobulins, showing initial signs of recovery before succumbing to the illness. This case underscores the complexity of diagnosing and managing AKPV, particularly in those with underlying health conditions.

Preventive Measures and Public Health Response

In response to the first fatality and recognizing the broader implications for public health, the SOE, the University of Alaska Museum, and the CDC are intensifying efforts to test small mammals for AKPV across different regions of Alaska. These efforts aim to better understand the virus’s distribution and inform preventive strategies. The CDC and Alaska Division of Public Health emphasize the importance of maintaining distance from wild animals and consulting healthcare providers if AKPV symptoms are suspected.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

The first death from AKPV underscores the significance of this emerging infectious disease and its potential impact on public health. Key takeaways include the importance of heightened awareness among clinicians, especially outside the Interior region of Alaska, and the need for ongoing research and surveillance to understand the risks associated with AKPV better. Alaskans are urged to follow guidelines for staying healthy around wildlife to prevent potential infections.


  1. Fatal Alaskapox Infection in Southcentral Alaska Resident. Alaska Department of Health.
  2. CDC. Wildlife, Healthy Pets, Healthy People.
  3. Frequently Asked Questions about Alaskapox Virus. Alaska Department of Health.

This comprehensive analysis sheds light on the Alaskapox virus, combining recent case studies with established knowledge to inform and educate readers on this significant public health concern.

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