AUSTIN (KXAN) — The “more contagious” COVID-19 strand B.1.1.7 has been confirmed in Harris County.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted this morning about the strand being confirmed, along with the message, “Along with our recent trends, we could be on the road to a crisis if we don’t change our behavior NOW. Do your part.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services says the adult male patient had no history of travel and that results of genetic sequencing has shown the infection was caused by the B.1.1.7 variant.
“The fact that this person had no travel history suggests this variant is already circulating in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “Genetic variations are the norm among viruses, and it’s not surprising that it arrived here given how rapidly it spreads. This should make us all redouble our commitment to the infection prevention practices that we know work: masks any time you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that an unusually large number of mutations have been found around the world, including the U.S. and Canada, and scientists are working to learn more about COVID variant strains.
The CDC says the B.1.1.7 variant is estimated to have emerged in the United Kingdom in September last year, and indicators suggest this variant is “more efficient” at rapid transmission. However, experts believe the current vaccine is effective against this strain.