First Texas case of more contagious coronavirus variant identified in Harris County

First Texas case of more contagious coronavirus variant identified in Harris County
A sign urges resident to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic in Hidalgo County. Dec. 7, 2020. (Source: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

The first known case of a new and possibly more contagious coronavirus strain has been reported in Texas, in an adult male resident of Harris County who had no history of travel, according to the state health services department and Judge Lina Hidalgo.

The variant known as B.1.1.7 was first identified in the United Kingdom where it has spread quickly, and cases have been found in several U.S. states, including California and Colorado. It does not cause a more severe disease and vaccines “are expected to be effective against it,” the health services department said of the variant.

But “the fact that this person had no travel history suggests this variant is already circulating in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the state’s health services department. “Genetic variations are the norm among viruses, and it’s not surprising that it arrived here given how rapidly it spreads.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/01/07/texas-coronavirus-harris-county-variant/.

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