Health officials in Nevada detected the state’s first known case of the B.1.351 coronavirus variant, first identified in South Africa, in a sample collected in Reno, according to a statement from the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med).
The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory (NSPHL) located at UNR Med said it first sequenced the specimen on Saturday, and through further analysis of data detected the B.1.351 strain and confirmed it on Wednesday.
The sample came from a person who had traveled from South Africa and became symptomatic after arriving in Reno.
Some more context: The NSPHL has been analyzing positive Covid-19 virus samples for variants since mid-December 2020 through whole genome sequencing, the statement reads.
"Daily sequencing of positive cases is not necessarily the norm,” NSPHL Director Mark Pandori said, adding that, “daily genetic testing will allow us to find cases closer to the time that they arrive, possibly limiting community spread. In this case, the carrier was a traveler from South Africa. So hopefully this is an example of that benefit."
On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 19 cases of the B.1.351 variant have been identified in 10 states. This doesn’t represent the total number of such cases circulating in the US, but just those that have been found by analyzing positive samples.