By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In a follow-up to a report last year, the Alaska Department of Epidemiology reported in July and August 2021, two unrelated persons from the Fairbanks area presented with orthopox-like lesions to an
urgent care clinic.

Image (cropped) by cmccarthy2001 from Pixabay

The former was a was a young child with a lesion on the inside of her left elbow. About 4 days after the lesion first appeared, she had a mild subjective fever and axillary lymphadenopathy. These systemic symptoms lasted approximately 4 days. She has since recovered.

The latter was a middle-aged woman with a lesion on her upper right inner thigh. In addition to her lesion, she reported lymphadenopathy and joint pain beginning about 2 days after lesion onset. Approximately 3 weeks after symptom onset, the patient remained symptomatic but was improving.

Got Smallpox?

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing on both was positive for orthopoxviruses. Viral genome
sequencing yielded sequences very similar to previous Alaskapox viral sequences.

Neither patient has any travel history and none of their pets had lesions or other symptoms.

While no specific source of infection was identified for either patient, both spent time outdoors in the Fairbanks area during the summer.

Officials say as more Alaskapox virus infections in humans are identified, some patterns are beginning to emerge. The identification of these two cases with no travel history and no epidemiologic links to other known cases provides further evidence that human cases occur following occasional spillover from an
animal reservoir.

All four cases occurred in persons living in low-density housing in forested areas; small mammals are widespread in these areas.

Orthopoxvirus is a genus of double-stranded DNA viruses that infect a variety of animals, including humans, cattle, cats, and rodents.