The germ caused two cattle herders to suffer fever, swollen lymph nodes, and painful boils on their hands and arms in 2013. It happened in a rural area in the country of Georgia. They recovered in a matter of weeks. A third case in a cattle owner in 2010 was later discovered.
The new virus has been named Akhmeta after the area where it was first detected. A report on the virus by health officials in Georgia and the United States was published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It doesn’t seem to be a public health threat, and likely was around for many years before it was identified, said Dr. Donald “D.A.” Henderson. He is a renowned smallpox expert at the University of Pittsburgh who was not involved in the Akhmeta virus research.
The new germ is from a group of viruses that cause cowpox, monkeypox and smallpox, which have similar symptoms including boils.
“The good news is that it seems less severe” than monkeypox and smallpox, said Dr. Neil Vora of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead author of the new report.