(GoRealNewsNow.com) – Fear and desperation intoxicate the air of Alaskans as an elderly person from Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula has become the first person to die due to a rare virus known as Alaskapox, according to health officials.
This marks the first time someone outside of Fairbanks has been hit by this.
The Alaska Beacon reported this past Friday that this virus isn’t just a wildlife problem anymore. One way this bug shows up is through small lesions on the skin.
“The patient, who had an immune system that was compromised because of treatment for cancer, first reported signs of the infection in September when a tender lesion appeared in his armpit area,” a state health bulletin explained.
After the poor guy’s condition got worse over six weeks of emergency care visits, he ended up hospitalized. Things got really bad, and he was moved to a bigger hospital in Anchorage. It took a heap of tests to figure out it was Alaskapox the cause of all problems.
Despite the doctors’ efforts, the man faced a plethora of problems like renal failure, respiratory failure, and malnutrition before he passed away in January.
The Alaska Department of Health’s website says Alaskapox was first spotted in 2015. “Since 2015, six additional cases of Alaskapox virus have been reported in Alaska, five of which were in persons living in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and one person was living in the Kenai Peninsula Borough,” the site adds.
Looks like this virus mostly affects small critters like red-backed voles and shrews. But, it could be all over Alaska’s small mammal population, meaning other people might’ve caught it without knowing. Even house pets could be spreading it around.
Turns out, the man who died lived in an area with lots of trees and took care of a stray cat that liked to hunt. The cat often scratched him, which might’ve been how he caught the virus.
“This is the first case of severe Alaskapox infection resulting in hospitalization and death. The patient’s immunocompromised status likely contributed to illness severity,” the health bulletin said.