By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Alaska state health officials are reporting the second known novel orthopoxvirus case, aka “Alaskapox” in a resident of Fairbanks.


In August, a woman presented with the following symptoms: A small grey lesion on her left upper arm, followed by erythema approximately 4 days later. She reported tender axillary adenopathy, shoulder pain, fatigue, and subjective fever at night.

PCR testing performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified it as a generic orthopoxvirus and sequencing determined it belonged to the lineage as the first ever case reported in a different Fairbanks woman in 2015.

The patient had not traveled outside of Alaska for the past 3 years, but she did travel to Southcentral Alaska approximately 3 weeks before symptom onset. She reported that none of her family members or coworkers had any recent history of international travel.

At the time of symptom onset, the patient lived with two cats. She reported that one of the cats captured and killed small mammals outside her residence, but the patient denied ever touching any of the small mammals. The patient also had regular contact with dogs owned by family members.

Officials hypothesize that Alaskapox virus is most likely enzootic in one or more species of mammals in Interior Alaska and that humans are only occasionally infected. Both cases occurred during mid- to late summer in residents of forested areas near Fairbanks. While the similar time of year may be purely coincidental, it may also reflect the fact that small mammal populations are likely at or near their peak population size in late summer and that humans in Interior Alaska spend more time outdoors during the summer than other times of year.

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

Virologists have proposed that the lineage found in these two cases represents a new species of Orthopoxvirus, which they named “Alaskapox virus”

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