NATIONAL NEWS

Elderly Alaska man is first reported person to die of recently discovered Alaskapox virus

Feb 12, 2024, 7:15 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An elderly man has died from Alaskapox, the first known fatality from the recently discovered virus, state health officials said.

The man, who lived in the remote Kenai Peninsula, was hospitalized last November and died in late January, according to a bulletin last week from Alaska public health officials.

The man was undergoing cancer treatment and had a suppressed immune system because of the drugs, which may have contributed to the severity of his illness, the bulletin said. It described him as elderly but didn’t provide his age.

Alaskapox, also known as AKPV, is related to smallpox, cowpox and mpox, health officials said. Symptoms can include a rash, swollen lymph nodes and joint or muscle pain.

Only six other cases of the virus have been reported to Alaska health officials since the first one in 2015. All involved people were living in the Fairbanks area, more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) from the Kenai Peninsula, health officials said.

All had mild cases and recovered without being hospitalized.

The man who died “resided alone in a forested area and reported no recent travel and no close contacts with recent travel, illness, or similar lesions,” the health bulletin said.

It’s unclear how AKPV is transmitted but researchers say it may be zoonotic, meaning it can jump from animals to humans. The bulletin said that tests found evidence of current or previous infection in several species of small mammals in the Fairbanks area, including red-backed voles, and at least one domestic pet.

The man said he had cared for a stray cat at his home, the bulletin said.

The cat tested negative for the virus but it “regularly hunted small mammals and frequently scratched the patient,” the bulletin said.

That opens the possibility that the cat had the virus on its claws when it scratched him. The bulletin said a “notable” scratch near the armpit area where the first symptom — a red lesion — was noted.

Health officials said there hasn’t been any documented cases of humans passing on the virus but they recommended people with skin lesions possibly caused by Alaskapox to cover the affected area with a bandage.”

Other suggestions are thoroughly washing hands, avoid sharing clothing that might have touched the lesions and to launder clothing and sheets separately from other household items.

Health authorities also urged Alaskans to follow federal health precautions when around wildlife to avoid potential Alaskapox infections.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water after contacting wild animals or their feces. Hunters should always wear gloves when handling dead animals, even if they are freshly killed, the agency suggests.

National News

FILE - A bump stock is displayed in Harrisonburg, Va., on March 15, 2019. The Supreme Court will he...

Associated Press

Supreme Court to hear challenge to bump stock ban in high court’s latest gun case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a challenge to a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a gun accessory used in a Las Vegas massacre that was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. A Texas gun shop owner argues the Trump administration didn’t follow federal law when it reversed course […]

37 minutes ago

FILE - Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, speaks during a news conference outside the Capito...

Associated Press

Hunter Biden to appear for closed-door interview with Republicans conducting impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden is set to appear Wednesday on Capitol Hill for a closed-door deposition with lawmakers, a critical moment for Republicans as their impeachment inquiry into his father and their family’s business affairs teeters on the brink of collapse. The deposition will mark a decisive point for the 14-month Republican investigation into […]

39 minutes ago

Associated Press

1 person injured when Hawaii tour helicopter crashes on remote Kauai beach

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — One person was injured when a tour helicopter crashed on a remote beach on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the county fire department said Tuesday. An aircraft operated by Jack Harter Helicopters crashed at Honopu Beach on the Napali Coast, a rugged stretch of Kauai that is only accessible by hiking, […]

2 hours ago

Defendant Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, former armorer on the set of the movie "Rust", walks back to her s...

Associated Press

Expert in Old West firearms says gun wouldn’t malfunction in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Courtroom testimony by an independent gun expert Tuesday cast new doubt on Alec Baldwin’s account that his gun went off without pulling the trigger in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer during a 2021 rehearsal on the set of the Western movie “Rust.” Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to involuntary […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Why AP called Michigan for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared former President Donald Trump the winner of Michigan’s Republican primary based on an analysis of initial vote returns from a cross-section of the state. With the victory, Trump is now a perfect five-for-five in presidential contests in which he appeared on the ballot. The AP declared Trump the […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Public health officer in Michigan keeps her job after lengthy legal fight over COVID rules

WEST OLIVE, Mich. (AP) — An embattled public health officer in Michigan will get to keep her job, after a lengthy legal fight with county commissioners over pandemic-era mask mandates concluded Tuesday with the board bowing to the will of a court-ordered arbitrator. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners voted 11-0 Monday to retain Adeline […]

6 hours ago

Elderly Alaska man is first reported person to die of recently discovered Alaskapox virus