Alaskan smallpox is a zoonotic disease that is transmitted only from animals to humans. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
Photo: Yulia PYKHALOVA
On the American Kenai Peninsula, this is the southern coast of Alaska, the first case of death of a patient with the poorly studied Alaska smallpox virus (translated as Alaska smallpox) was recorded. According to local publication Alaska Public Media, the carrier could have been a stray cat that was fed by an elderly man. After three months in the hospital, he died.
The American suffered from cancer and was undergoing treatment. He lived alone in the countryside and fed a cat that sometimes scratched. The man developed a skin rash. The therapist was unable to make an accurate diagnosis and only prescribed the patient broad-spectrum antibiotics. They did not improve him, the man was covered in red “nodules.” I lost my appetite and my wounds slowly healed. As a result, the patient, already weakened by cancer, died.
WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THE ALASKA SMALLPOX VIRUS?
Alaskan smallpox was first discovered in 2015: a resident of Fairbanks, Alaska, arrived at the hospital complaining of weakness and malaise. The doctor paid attention to the woman’s shoulder: there was a red spot that resembled a symptom of smallpox. The analysis revealed a previously unknown pathogen.
The doctors concluded: the pathogen, due to its characteristics, belongs to the family of smallpox viruses, which is why it will be called Alaskan smallpox (AKPV).
At the end of 2023, six cases were known, including one child. The patients had a fever, a rash appeared on their hands, and their lymph nodes were enlarged.
The American red squirrel is considered one of the carriers of a dangerous disease.
Photo: GLOBAL LOOK PRESS
But all of these patients completed a three-week treatment and made a full recovery. An elderly man from Kenai became the first person in the world to die after being infected with Alaska smallpox. Virologists highlight that the American was elderly, had chronic diseases and low immunity. And, although “Alaska smallpox” is different from all previously known strains of smallpox, it does not pose a serious danger.
Another question remains: who carries Alaskan smallpox in the wild and why is it only infected in Alaska? The cat that scratched the pensioner was tested but tested negative for AKPV.
But three other patients also had cats that hunted rats and mice. Virologists set traps and found Alaskan smallpox in captured voles. Shrews and squirrels have even developed antibodies against AKPV!
HOW DANGEROUS IS THE ALASKAPOX VIRUS AND WILL IT APPEAR IN RUSSIA?
Epidemiologists say: Alaska smallpox is a zoonotic disease that spreads only from animals to humans. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus. In addition, the probability of death from AKPV in people with normal immunity is almost zero. It is quite possible that the cause of death of the Kenai elder was another pathology.
Rospotrebnadzor ruled out the risk of Alaska smallpox reaching our country and announced control of the situation on the border.