Outagamie County’s health authorities confirm the COVID-19 variant in South Africa

APPLETON, Wisconsin (WBAY) – Outagamie County’s Public Health Department says the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus was found in a test sample in their county.

The variant of the COVID-19 virus was first identified in Wisconsin in early March, and according to Outagamie County Public Health, this is only the second known case in the state. The South African variant, also called strain B.1.351, is more contagious and spreads faster than the original COVID-19 virus. However, health officials are unsure whether the risk of serious symptoms is the same or worse.

Wisconsin has already identified the British variant and just announced on Friday that the state had identified the first case of a Brazilian variant (see related story). Health officials say there are no doubt more cases than they have identified because only a fraction of positive COVID-19 tests are genetically tested.

The local health department says all viruses mutate, which is not unexpected. However, this shows the need to remain vigilant about the viruses and to continue good health practices: wearing a mask over your nose and mouth; social distancing from people outside of your household, including family members; stay at home when sick; and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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