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Poxviruses, found worldwide, are a group of viruses that can infect both humans and animals, causing the formation of lesions, skin nodules, or a widespread rash when a person or animal is infected.

Infections with poxviruses typically occur due to contact with infected animals, people, or contaminated objects. While certain poxviruses, like smallpox, no longer exist naturally, cases of other poxviruses like mpox and borealpox have been reported in Alaska and have the potential to cause diseases.

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, and is not a poxvirus.

Poxviruses in Alaska:

Borealpox virus (formerly know as Alaskapox)

Borealpox virus was discovered in 2015 in Fairbanks, Alaska. This virus is known to infect mammals, including humans, and cause skin lesions.

Mpox, (formerly known as Monkeypox)

Mpox is a rare viral infection caused by the Monkeypox virus. Until 2022, cases were primarily reported in central and western African countries. However, since May 2022, cases have emerged in countries, including the US, where mpox transmission was not previously documented. Alaska has also reported confirmed cases of mpox.