The country reported its first known fatal case of Alaskan buck disease

The country reported its first known fatal case of Alaskan buck disease

State health officials this week reported the first known fatal case of Alaskan box disease in an immunocompromised Kenai Peninsula man who was undergoing treatment in Anchorage when he died in late January.

Health officials say a recently discovered species of a double-stranded DNA virus first identified in Alaska in 2015 comes from the same genus as smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox. It occurs mostly in small mammals such as voles and shrews.

The man is one of seven No cases of Alaska smallpox have been reported so far, according to an Alaska Department of Epidemiology bulletin issued Friday providing information about the death.

State health officials say the fatal case, which took months to diagnose, is significant because Alaskan bochs previously only resulted in mild infections. It’s also significant because the case was reported outside the Fairbanks area for the first time.

Officials say it is possible that the man’s weakened immune system contributed to the severity of his illness.

Until December, reports were of relatively mild illness consisting of a localized rash and swollen lymph nodes. None of these people needed treatment, but all had healthy immune systems, according to state Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin.

This latest case suggests that the virus may be more prevalent in Alaska’s ferrets and other small animals than previously thought, prompting the state to recommend that medical providers make sure they can recognize symptoms.

“People shouldn’t necessarily be worried, they should be more aware,” said Julia Rogers, a state epidemiologist who co-authored the bulletin. “So we hope to make doctors more aware of what Alaskabox virus is, so they can identify the signs and symptoms.”

Additional attention to this latest case could lead to an increase in the number of Alaskan buckvirus cases in the state as more people recognize symptoms and get tested, officials said Friday.

Officials say the cause of this fatal condition remains unclear.

The man, who lived far away and had not traveled anywhere, likely contracted the virus from a stray cat that was hunting small mammals and scratched him near the area where his first symptoms began, according to the bulletin. The cat tested negative for the virus, but could have carried it on its paws.

The man noticed a red bump in his armpit last September and was prescribed an antibiotic after seeking medical care several times over a six-week period, the bulletin said. By mid-November, his symptoms had grown to include fatigue and pain.

He was hospitalized on the Kenai Peninsula and then transferred to Anchorage, where he reported increasingly urgent symptoms and smallpox-like lesions, according to the release. A “battery of tests” in December returned a positive result for cowpox; She added that tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the presence of Alaska smallpox.

The man began to improve after about a week of treatment with intravenous medications but died in late January after developing kidney failure and other systemic deterioration, according to the release.

Health officials recommend that anyone with a lesion cover it with a bandage and report any possible symptoms of Alaskan bosom to a medical provider. Alaskans should also practice good hygiene when hunting and trapping or around pets that may come into contact with animals such as voles or shrews.

A Fairbanks-area resident with Alaskabucks reported his dog rolling in dead animals, but it’s unclear whether contact with the dog was what caused the patient to become infected, McLaughlin said. Many of the people who later tested positive for Alaskabuckus initially thought they had spider bites, officials said, noting the virus’s ability to fly under the medical radar.

The bulletin includes nine recommendations that range from urging Alaskans to use safe practices around wildlife to clinics taking steps to protect immunocompromised patients and staff when handling the virus.

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