New COVID strain brings allergy-like symptoms

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Savannah Denton

A new coronavirus variant is beginning to circulate, and with allergy season here there could be some confusion figuring out if you’ve got simple seasonal sniffles or something you could spread to others.

The new variant, called Arcturus, is more transmissible than previous variants. But COVID is here to stay and symptoms are more often than not mild.

“I wouldn’t panic about these new variants,” said family practitioner Dr. Christopher McGee. “We are going to see these quite a bit, unless they become more severe, which is not in the trend at all.”

In fact, McGee said, the trend since the Delta variant has been less severe cases.

I hope that trend continues and I currently wouldn’t panic about this,” he said. 

The World Health Organization has been monitoring this strain since cases began to show in India March 22. Cases have now been confirmed in at least 20 countries.

As COVID variants adapt and change, so do the symptoms of those who get it.

For many people, the latest symptoms are similar to a common cold or spring allergies. But some symptoms, including fever, are also present.

Different variants come with sometimes unique symptoms, as the Omicron variant got notice after it was linked to pink eye.

“I think as the variants come through there’s always some mild changes in what type of symptoms they produce,” said University Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Weida. “So you never know what you are going to get with the next variant.”

While Arcturus is more contagious than some other variants, it has not been shown to cause more severe illness for healthy adults.

“It seems the new variants are easier to catch but not as severe, not as many hospitalizations,” Weida said. “But it still is a very significant illness that can cause hospitalizations, particularly in those who are older and who are immunocompromised.”

It’s possible the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will at some point encourage a yearly COVID-19 vaccine similar to the flu shot.

Currently, the CDC recommends adults get a one- or two-shot series depending on the vaccine maker along with a booster a few months later. Some older adults or those who are immunocompromised may be recommended further boosters. Check if you’re up to date according to current CDC guidelines right here.

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