Home » «Probable contagion from his cat». Symptoms and risks of the disease

«Probable contagion from his cat». Symptoms and risks of the disease

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«Probable contagion from his cat».  Symptoms and risks of the disease

First victim ofAlaskapox. An elderly man – as reported by Alaska health authorities – has died from the recently discovered new smallpox virus. It’s unclear how the man contracted it, but officials say it’s possible it could be linked to a stray cat that lived with him.

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Alaskapox, first victim of the new virus

The man, who lived on the remote Kenai Peninsula, had been hospitalized since last November and died at the end of January.

While being treated for cancer, his immune system was weakened due to the drugs, which – according to health information – may have contributed to the worsening of the disease.

What is Alaskan smallpox

Alaskan smallpox, also known as AKPV, is related to smallpox, cowpox, and mpox. Symptoms include skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, and joint or muscle pain. Immunocompromised people may be at greater risk of more severe disease.

Only six more cases of the virus have been reported to Alaska health officials since the first report in 2015. All of those involved lived in the Fairbanks area, more than 300 miles from the Kenai Peninsula. All had mild cases and recovered without being hospitalized.

How it is transmitted

It is unclear how AKPV is transmitted, but researchers say it may be of animal origin, meaning it can pass from animals to humans. Tests found evidence of infection in several small mammal species in the Fairbanks area, including red-backed voles, and in at least one domestic animal. The victim had reported that he had been taking care of a stray cat at her home. The animal tested negative for the virus but “regularly hunted small mammals and often scratched the patient”, we read in the bulletin relating to the man’s death. Scratches that could have been the vehicle of the infection.

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