First Case of Brazil COVID-19 Variant Identified in Lake County

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For Immediate Release
Date: March 17, 2021

First Case of Brazil COVID-19 Variant Identified in Lake County

Health Department Urges Taking Precautions to Limit Spread of COVID-19

Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department is reporting the first case of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) P.1 variant (Brazil) in Lake County. Health Department staff are investigating. The person’s travel history is not known at this time.

“This is the second new variant of COVID-19 to be identified in Lake County since February, and the rise of these new variants could impact the progress we have made this year,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department. “We can’t afford to let our guard down. Please continue wearing masks, washing hands, keeping 6 feet of distance from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces to keep our communities safe.”

Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected. In addition to the P.1 variant in Brazil, the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom (UK) and 1.351 variant in South Africa have recently emerged. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

The Lake County Health Department has investigated multiple cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant identified since the first case was identified in the county on February 5, 2021, most of which were related to domestic or international travel. No cases of the 1.351 (South African) variant have been identified in Lake County to date.

“While we have identified a limited numbers of variant cases in our county, they are most certainly an underestimate of the number of actual cases,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist for the Lake County Health Department. “We need our community’s help to curb the spread of the virus while we work to vaccinate our residents as quickly as possible. It is crucial to continue to follow quarantine recommendations if you have traveled or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Wearing masks, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from others continue to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus, regardless of the strain.”

The P.1 variant was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. It was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.

So far, studies suggest that currently authorized vaccines in the United States recognize and are effective for these known variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

For more information on new COVID-19 variants, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website.

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Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Avenue
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
(847) 377-8000