Medical Definition of Tanapox

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

Tanapox: A poxvirus infection common in equatorial Africa. The disease starts with mild fever for 2 to 4 days accompanied by headache and myalgia (muscle ache), followed by the eruption of one or more large red nodules on the skin, typically on the extremities. Within several weeks there is usually complete recovery without specific therapy.

Tanapox was first recognized in 1957. The virus is harbored by chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates. Transmission to humans is thought to occur primarily through transfer from arthropod intermediaries such as mosquitoes. Direct transmission from nonhuman primates to humans and from one human to another is extremely rare.

The identification of tanapox is important because of the concern for agents of biologic warfare such as smallpox, monkeypox, tularemia, and anthrax. The diagnostic tests for tanapox include Gram staining, culturing, routine histopathological analysis, electron microscopy, and PCR analysis.


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Reviewed on 9/7/2018