Infectious diseases specialist with MCHS talks about latest COVID-19 variant XXB 1.5

Flu cases and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) rates are beginning to drop in the U.S.; however, reported cases of COVID-19 are increasing. A new COVID-19 omicron variant, XBB.1.5, is spreading quickly and being closely monitored, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  KAUS News spoke with Dr. Raj Palraj, an infectious diseases specialist with Mayo Clinic Health System who stated that the newest variant spreads much more easily compared to the previous variants, and almost twice more likely to spread compared to the previous variants…

Dr. Palraj went on to state that the virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing and has been mutating since it first appeared three years ago,and he explained how that happens…

Dr. Palraj stated that the symptoms of the new COVID-19 variant are very similar to previous variants…

Dr. Palraj says that while the variant in current circulation is very new, vaccination remains an important tool against severe illness…

Along with vaccination, Dr. Palraj stated that other tools to fight variants and infections include masking, self-testing, staying home if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, avoiding contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and practicing good hand hygiene.  Dr. Palraj recommends common sense precautions. If you have symptoms or don’t feel well, he says to stay home to help prevent the spread of the virus, and get tested.

Also, if you are ill and test positive, Dr. Palraj went on to state that it is important to contact your health care team right away. Medications, like Paxlovid, are available for people with certain risk factors, but Dr. Palraj indicated that they need to be taken at the beginning of infection in order to be effective.

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