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New variant of COVID-19 strain detected in Mississippi

Labs are reportedly starting to randomly test for the new COVD variant to see if it is in...
Labs are reportedly starting to randomly test for the new COVD variant to see if it is in Kentucky.(Pexels)
Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 2:19 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed the first case of a COVID-19 variant strain in a Mississippi resident.

A case of the B.1.1.7 United Kingdom variant was confirmed during routine testing.

No international travel or spread to contacts is known to have occurred, but additional investigation is ongoing, health officials say.

Officials would not say where the strain was located.

“All I can say is Mississippi,” said MSDH spokeswoman Liz Sharlot.

The B.1.1.7 variant strain has been identified in 40 U.S. states and is known to spread more easily and quickly than other strains.

While suspected, currently there is no direct evidence that this strain causes a more severe infection or a higher risk of death, MSDH officials say.

However, the mutation spreads “more easily and quickly than other variants,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus was first detected in the United States in late December 2020.

The CDC said other variants also have emerged, including the B.1.351 variant out of South Africa and the P.1 variant out of Brazil. The latter mutation was first detected during routine screenings at an airport in Japan. It was detected in the U.S. in late January.

The Brazilian and South African variants have not been detected in Mississippi, Sharlot said.

MSDH continues to expand surveillance for the U.K. strain and said that additional cases likely will be identified.

Health officials say vaccines are expected to be effective against the variant strains, but further research continues.

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