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Health officials find first Wisconsin case of COVID-19 variant originally identified in Brazil

Coronavirus COVID-19 variants

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin health officials say that all three COVID-19 variants of concern have been identified in the state.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services updated its website Friday to reflect that the Badger State now has at least one case of the United Kingdom, South African and Brazilian variants of the disease.

The common names reflect where the variants first were widely detected, not necessarily where they originated.

The most recent development is the arrival of Variant P.1, the Brazilian strain. One case has been identified in Wisconsin as of Friday.

The first alternative strain of COVID-19 to be detected in the state was the United Kingdom variant in January. It was then detected in Dane County for the first time the following month.

All three of the strains spread more rapidly than the original form of the disease, state health officials say.

The Department of Health Services provides the following information on their website:

Variant B.1.1.7

  • Variant B.1.1.7 was first discovered in England in November of 2020. The variant was first reported in the United States in December 2020 and was first identified in Wisconsin in January 2021.
  • Researchers believe this new strain spreads more rapidly and easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. B.1.1.7 may also be associated with an increased risk of death but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Variant B.1.351

  • Variant B.1.351 was first discovered in South Africa in samples dating back to October 2020. 
  • Researchers have found that this strain also spreads more rapidly and easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is not yet known if this variant has any impact on disease severity. There is some evidence that this variant may affect how vaccine induced antibodies respond to this virus.

Variant P.1

  • Variant P.1 was first discovered in four travelers from Brazil who were tested at an airport near Tokyo, Japan in early January 2021.
  • Researchers have found this strain also spreads more rapidly and easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The P.1 variant also has unique genetic mutations that may affect the body's ability to recognize and fight off the virus. Typically antibodies developed through previous COVID-19 infection or through vaccination can fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, if the virus has mutated, antibodies may not recognize it and leave you exposed to COVID-19 infection by this strain.