Southwest Idaho Man Tests Positive For South Africa SARS-CoV-2 Mutation

Feb 19, 2021

State health officials report a man in southwest Idaho has tested positive for the South African variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. He is the first in the state to test positive for a concerning mutation. Another concerning variant originating in the UK was also found in Boise-area wastewater.

Officials identified the patient with the South African variant only as an "adult male living in southwest Idaho," but the notification came from Idaho’s Southwest District Health, which covers Canyon, Gem, Adams, Owyhee, Payette and Washington Counties.

The man reportedly traveled internationally and is thought to have contracted the virus before returning to Idaho.

“We are not surprised to find this virus in Idaho,” Idaho Public Health medical director Dr. Christine Hahn said in a release. “We remind Idahoans to continue wearing masks, physically distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home when ill. In addition to getting vaccinated when it becomes available for you, those actions are the best things we can do now.”

Local health officials are working to identify anyone who may have had close contact with the man.

Credit Navy Medicine / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (IBL) continues to expand the number of Idaho samples being sequenced to identify emerging strains and better understand how the virus is spreading in the state.

This variant was identified among the first SARS-CoV-2 samples sequenced by IBL, which works with clinical laboratories, public health districts and providers to expand the number of Idaho samples sequenced.

The B.1.351 variant was first identified in South Africa in late 2020 and preliminary evidence shows some vaccines are less effective against this strain.

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