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This COVID-19 variant could cause pink eye. What you need to know

Pink eye could also be an indication of COVID-19.

San Diego County public well being specialists say XBB.1.16, an rising offshoot of the Omicron variant which has reportedly been related to itchy, watery eyes, has an opportunity to quickly take up a bigger share of native COVID-19 instances.

Why this issues

Rising COVID-19 variants can convey with them new signs, doubtlessly posing challenges for native well being methods.

The brand new variant — informally known as “Arcturus” — has gained floor as COVID-19 ranges have usually fallen throughout the county to date this yr. The newest public well being information reveals the county counted 694 instances of any variant, 98 hospitalizations from the illness and 4 deaths through the week ending April 22.

XBB.1.16 has solely held a sliver of the overall proportion of COVID-19 since epidemiologists first noticed it in native wastewater in March. In keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, an identical pressure known as XBB.1.5 has claimed a majority of the county’s instances for the previous two months.

County spokesperson Gig Conaughton mentioned the brand new variant has appeared in different nations for a number of months. (The World Well being Group known as it a “variant of curiosity” on April 17.)

“San Diego County Public Well being can’t predict what’s going to occur with the XBB.1.16 lineage right here,” he mentioned, “however another variants beforehand moved from the East Coast to California and ultimately elevated in San Diego County wastewater.”

Well being care staff in California should not required to report pink eye — also called conjunctivitis — to the federal government, Conaughton mentioned. Meaning it might be troublesome to trace how carefully the variant runs in parallel with studies of itchy, watery eyes. 

San Diego State College epidemiology professor Eyal Oren mentioned the variant’s array of signs, whereas regarding, don’t elevate extra alarm in comparison with these of different lineages.

“It’s essential to keep in mind that that is one subvariant of about 600 that we’re conscious of which have come from Omicron,” he mentioned, “and it doesn’t appear any extra deadly or any [more] extreme than most of them.”

Nonetheless, he added that the variant’s presence could assist to remind people who COVID-19 stays a difficulty.

“I don’t suppose we’re out of the woods — COVID is round. However I additionally don’t suppose there’s a pink flag now we have to wave proper now,” Oren mentioned.

Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, who directs the SDSU Institute for Public Well being, mentioned she couldn’t touch upon the variant particularly. However she wrote in an e mail to inewsource that new variants can include a threat of surges.

“I’d encourage folks to regulate issues just like the wastewater dashboard and take into account including layers of safety if/once they see growing COVID locally,” she mentioned.

Conaughton really useful a few of these protecting measures.

“Correct hygiene, handwashing and avoiding touching eyes scale back the chances of getting conjunctivitis and plenty of different viruses, together with COVID-19,” he mentioned.

Stroll-in clinic places and appointment info for the COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be found on the state’s MyTurn web site. RiteAid, CVS and different main pharmacies can even present vaccines. Extra info might be discovered on the county’s web site.

Sort of Content material

Information: Primarily based on information, both noticed and verified straight by the reporter, or reported and verified from educated sources.


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