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Alaskapox: First human death from zoonotic virus is announced

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: (Published 15 February 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q415
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

State health officials in Alaska have identified the first human to die from a recently discovered virus that appears able to leap from animals to people.

Authorities said that the patient, who died in a hospital in Anchorage last month, was an elderly man from the Kenai Peninsula with a history of drug induced immunosuppression from cancer treatment. He first noticed a tender red swelling in his right armpit last September, said a bulletin from the Alaska Section of Epidemiology.1

Over the next six weeks the man presented several times to his primary care provider and the local emergency department and “was prescribed multiple antibiotic regimens,” the bulletin said. A punch biopsy revealed no sign of bacterial infection or cancer, and he experienced increasing pain in his right shoulder, developing into cellulitis that saw him admitted to hospital in mid-November.

He developed severe neuropathic burning pain, and four “smaller pox-like lesions” appeared on other …

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