Story at a glance
- The variant was found in a resident in Douglas County, Ore.
- Officials said the case appears to be related to business travel outside the U.S. to and from Brazil.
- The U.S. has only identified 10 additional cases of the P.1 strain.
A more contagious variant of the coronavirus that originated in Brazil has been identified in the U.S. west coast for the first time.
Health authorities in Douglas County, Ore., on Tuesday said they received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a swab sent to the agency for genome sequence testing in late January came back positive for the P.1 variant. Officials said the case appears to be related to business travel outside the U.S. to and from Brazil.
“Local Public Health shares the worry with the CDC, OHA (the Oregon Health Authority) and the entire scientific community, that the COVID-19 variants could be more infectious, perhaps more deadly, and maybe less well controlled by our current vaccine,” the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said in a statement Tuesday.
The P.1 variant was first found in people traveling from Brazil to Japan in January and has been seen mostly in Brazil, although it has made its way to dozens of other countries. It has 17 mutations from the original virus that appear to make it more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.
The U.S. has only identified 10 additional cases of the P.1 variant, with five in Florida, two in Minnesota and one in Oklahoma, Alaska and Maryland, according to the CDC.
Recent research has suggested that the variant can be contracted by someone who was already previously infected with the virus.
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