Medical Definition of Tanapox

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

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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