Alaskapox Virus

What is Alaskapox?

Alaskapox Virus belongs to the family of Orthopoxviruses. Orthopoxviruses target mammals and anthropods and transmit to other mammals through contact and respiratory droplets.

The first case of Alaskapox was identified as a female who was a nearby resident of Fairbanks, Alaska in 2015. It mainly infects small mammals like red-backed voles and shrews and causes skin lesions.

Alaskapox Virus
Alaskapox lesions, Pic Credit: Alaska Department of Health

What are the symptoms of Alaskapox?

People affected by Alaskapox are suffering from

  1. Skin lesions
  2. Swollen lymph nodes
  3. Joint pain
  4. Muscle pain
  5. Mild sickness

People having mild illnesses got cured on their own within a few weeks. But if you suffer from illness for a long time, you need to consult a doctor immediately.

Origin and affected animals

Mainly small mammals are infected by Alaskapox in the initial stage. Two rounds of samples have been analysed on small mammals in 2020 and 2021 confirming that Red-backed voles and Shrews were infected.

Red-backed vole and Shrew

Evidence also confirmed a few more small mammals of Fairbanks are infected. Authority still trying to find the probability of mammal-to-human transmission.

One infected person is from Kenai Peninsula Borough and the remaining six are from Fairbanks North Star Borough.

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Although Human transmission has not been confirmed yet still according to the Alaska Government People should cover the lesions and avoid touching them.

Affected people shouldn’t share clothes or bedsheets so it can’t be spread to other people.

Consult a doctor so they can assess better whether you are suffering from Alaskapox or something else.

To prevent transmission from wild animals

  1. Do not handle wild animals
  2. Don’t let wild animals enter your building
  3. Avoid visiting those areas where a lot of wild animals gather
  4. Wash your hands regularly


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