Summer Surge: FLiRT Variants Drive COVID-19 Spike in Certain US states

Summer Surge: FLiRT Variants Drive COVID-19 Spike in Certain US states

United States: COVID-19 metrics in California are experiencing the anticipated summer surge, driven by escalated travel, indoor congregation due to heat, and emergent coronavirus variants collectively designated as FLiRT.

These elements incited a near 30% rise in COVID-19 related emergency room visits in California during the concluding week of May — the latest period for which data is available — as reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s test positivity rate has ascended to 5.3% as of a week ago, an increment of 1.4 percentage points from the preceding week, according to the California Department of Public Health. A positivity rate exceeding 5% suggests active viral transmission, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle.

Wastewater surveillance from Bay Area sewersheds — the most reliable indicator of community viral presence — currently displays medium to high levels of SARS-CoV-2 at 10 of 12 monitored sites, including those in San Francisco, Marin, Solano, and Santa Clara counties, with marked increases from recent nadirs.

The FLiRT variants — KP.3, KP.2, and KP.1.1 — now constitute nearly half of all infections in the U.S., surpassing the erstwhile predominant JN.1 strain, as per the latest CDC data.

California joins 30 other states experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases, with the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker indicating national test positivity at 4.5% and a 16.2% nationwide increase in emergency department visits diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to the prior week. However, hospitalization and mortality rates remain subdued, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle.

Key Information as COVID-19 Cases Escalate

Identifying Symptoms

The FLiRT variants may be more transmissible as immunity from previous infections or vaccinations wanes, though they do not appear to induce more severe illness. Symptoms encompass sneezing, congestion, headaches, muscle soreness, nausea, and fatigue. Vaccination or prior infection typically results in milder symptoms, yet severe cases can still transpire. Testing is pivotal to differentiate COVID-19 from other similar infections.

Testing Protocols

Experts advise home testing immediately upon symptom manifestation or post-exposure, followed by retesting 1-2 days later. The CDC and FDA recommend repeat testing after a negative home test to minimize false negatives and curb virus spread. Laboratory tests are generally unnecessary unless proof of status is required, the reports by San Francisco Chronicle highlighted.

Isolation Guidelines

According to revised guidelines from the California Department of Public Health and the CDC, individuals testing positive for COVID-19 no longer need to isolate for five days in all cases. Those with mild and improving symptoms who are fever-free for 24 hours without medication can resume regular activities while wearing a mask and avoiding crowded indoor spaces for at least five days. These guidelines also extend to other respiratory viruses like influenza and RSV.

Treatment Options

Most individuals with mild COVID-19 can recuperate at home using over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen. People aged 12 and older at risk of severe illness can take Paxlovid within five days of symptom onset. Antivirals like remdesivir and molnupiravir are also available for severe cases.

Preventive Measures

The CDC recommends everyone eligible to keep their COVID-19 vaccinations up to date to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals and those aged 65 and older may receive additional vaccine doses. The FDA has ordered an update for the next vaccine round to target the JN.1 variant, expected by late summer or early fall.

Continuing established preventive measures — such as handwashing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, improving ventilation, monitoring community transmission levels, and wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces — remains effective in reducing transmission.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *