BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has confirmed the state’s first two identified cases of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the Brazil P.1 variant.
The P.1 cases were detected in individuals in Regions 1 (Greater New Orleans area) and 5 (Southwest Louisiana). Neither individual reported a history of travel, and neither individual had received the COVID-19 vaccines. Although these are the first reported cases of the P.1 variant in Louisiana, it is likely that there are additional undetected cases circulating, according to a spokesperson for LDH.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified the P.1 variant as a variant of concern. It is potentially associated with increased transmissibility and reduced susceptibility to certain therapeutics. Recent data suggest that the P.1 variant may also be associated with higher risk of severe disease. Current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against this variant strain.
There are now multiple variants of concern circulating in Louisiana: B.1.1.7 (U.K.), B.1.427/429 (California), and P.1. (Brazil). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best protection against these and other strains of SARS-CoV-2, including variants that may spread more easily or cause more severe disease, the spokesperson stated. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can also help prevent new variants from emerging: every infection that is prevented means the virus has one less chance to mutate.
Everyone 16 years of age and above is currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Information about vaccination locations can be found here or by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 855-453-0774. The Hotline can also connect individuals with medical professionals to answer questions about the vaccines or help callers schedule vaccine appointments.
In addition to getting the vaccine, LDH continues to recommend the following measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear masks,
- Practice distancing,
- Avoid gatherings,
- Avoid travel,
- Stay home when sick,
- Practice hand hygiene, and
- Quarantine and get tested if exposed to a positive case.
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