United States: According to Alaska state public health officials, an Alaskan citizen has died from symptoms of a recently discovered and unusual ailment referred to as Alaskapox.
The Alaskapox virus was discovered in the year 2015 and was reported in the city of Fairbanks by the Alaska Department of Health with seven cases in total have been reported since then in the region.
About the latest Alaskapox case
This is, on the other hand, the first Alaskapox case in the hospital leading to fatal results that have ever been known. The medical authority of the state noted that the patient was an elderly man who belongs to an at-risk group, that has a weak immune system and therefore predisposing him to more serious illness.
As per the officials, It hasn’t been established who the infected person had been and how exactly he or she had contracted the disease. They lived isolated from any other human in a forested area and the cat they reportedly cared for was found to be negative for the virus, as ABC News reported.
Spanning over six weeks, the patient visited his doctor and was referred to a nearby emergency room for a lump and given antibiotics as treatment, as stated by the bulletin.
At last, as his condition worsened, he was admitted into a hospital, during which period blood test results were sent to the CDC, and subsequently was discovered that this viral infection was Alaskapox. Their father had lost his life to the virus a few days before, they said from the health department of the state.
What is Alaskapox?
As ABC News reported, Dr. Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist and chief of the Alaska Division of Public Health Section of Epidemiology said, “Alaskapox remains rare,” and “For the vast majority of people who may come in contact with this virus, the clinical course will likely be mild.”
Most commonly, Plague is associated with small animals, particularly voles and shrews, as indicated by the Alaska State Department of Health.
However, the state’s health agency has reported no cases of human transmission to humans so far.
Julia Rogers, Ph.D., epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention embedded with the Alaska Department of Health said, “There’s no evidence so far [of] person-to-person transmission for the cases that have been identified,” ABC News reported.
Additionally, John Brownstein, Ph.D., chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News medical contributor also stated, “Given the rarity of Alaskapox and its generally mild course in healthy individuals, the risk to the general public remains low.”
Talking about the latest infection, McLaughlin said, “It could be that the cat was catching voles or shrews and eating them and then have viable virus in its claws, and that was the route of [infection], through a scratch,” reported ABC News.
As per Rogers, “The most recent [fatal] case was in an elderly man that was immunocompromised, so his immune system was already not going to be able to handle infection.”
Warning issued by the Alaskan government
The Government of Alaska advised medical professionals to be cautious about symptoms of the virus and to persuade their clinics to test suspected patients.
How to stay cautious and prevent disease from spreading?
Patients should keep the sores dry and covered and they should avoid touching them. They should wash their hands with soap after use and avoid sharing clothes, bedding, and towels as per the instructions of the health department.
As the wildlife may possibly transfer particular diseases to the infected citizens, the people having direct contact with wildlife should also take extra safety measures as advised by the officials.
Rogers said, “There’s lots of things that you can pick up from wildlife animals, and just try to take the best precautions you can and be safe and hygienic with contact with them,” as ABC reported.
Alaska health authorities consider the fact that the virus is new and the awareness of this will inform potential future cases are easier to spot.
McLaughlin added, “What we’re expecting is that over time, as more clinicians become not only aware that Alaskapox virus is out there, but also aware of what to look for and how to actually test for it, that we are going to see more Alaskapox diagnoses in the months and years ahead.”
Furthermore, Brownstein stated, “The recent unfortunate death of an immunocompromised individual underscores the potential severity of Alaskapox in vulnerable populations, highlighting the critical need for heightened awareness and diagnostic readiness among health care providers,” reported ABC News.
He added further, “This case emphasizes the importance of monitoring wildlife diseases and their potential to impact human health, especially as human activities increasingly encroach on natural habitats.”