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Why is it in the news?

  • An elderly man from Alaska succumbed to Alaskapox, marking the first recorded fatality associated with this orthopox virus.
About Alaskapox

·       Alaskapox was initially identified in Alaska, USA, in 2015.

·       It belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus, which also includes well-known viruses like smallpox, monkeypox, and cowpox.

·       This virus is categorized as zoonotic, meaning it can infect both animals and humans.

·       Alaskapox primarily infects small mammals, with red-backed voles and shrews being commonly identified as hosts.

·       While human-to-human transmission of Alaskapox has not been observed, it’s noted that some orthopoxviruses can spread through direct contact with lesions, particularly through broken skin contact with lesion secretions.

·       Individuals infected with Alaskapox typically exhibit symptoms such as skin lesions (bumps or pustules), swollen lymph nodes, and joint or muscle pain.

·       Most patients experience mild illnesses that resolve within a few weeks, though those with compromised immune systems may face a higher risk of severe illness.


About Orthopox Virus

·       Orthopoxviruses are a family of viruses within the Poxviridae family, characterized by their double-stranded DNA genomes.

·       They infect a wide range of vertebrates, including mammals and humans, as well as arthropods.

·       Within the Orthopoxvirus genus, there are 12 species known to cause diseases such as smallpox, cowpox, horsepox, camelpox, and monkeypox.


About Zoonotic Disease

·       Zoonotic diseases are infections transmitted between animals and humans.

·       These diseases can be caused by various types of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

·       Examples of zoonotic diseases include rabies (caused by a virus), blastomycosis (caused by a fungus), and in this case, Alaskapox (caused by an orthopox virus).

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