WISCONSIN— Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed Friday that another variant of the coronavirus was detected in Wisconsin.
The variant strain, referred to as P.1, is believed to have originated in Brazil. P.1 was first detected in January 2021 in four travelers coming from Brazil to Tokyo, Japan.
This is the third variant strain to make its way to the Badger State, according to a statement from Wisconsin DHS.
Like variants B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, both present in Wisconsin, P.1 spreads more easily and more rapidly than the original strain of COVID-19, according to Wisconsin DHS. Officials, however, did not identify differences between the strains.
In a statement, Wisconsin DHS said the P.1 variant could have a better chance at infecting people since it "has unique mutations that may affect the ability of antibodies" that the human body creates when it's infected with the virus.
"DHS continues to monitor for new SARS-CoV-2 variants in collaboration with our laboratory partners,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard. “Because these new variants of concern may spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, it is important to get vaccinated when you are able. Vaccines, along with our other public health practices, give the virus less of an opportunity to spread and mutate.”
Wisconsin DHS said in the news release that all viruses change through mutation. This is not specific to the coronavirus. Wisconsin DHS expects additional variants of the coronavirus to develop over time.
As of March 26, only one case of P.1 has been identified in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has identified 78 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant and two cases of the B.1.351 variant.
For more information on COVID-19 variants in Wisconsin, click here.