Lake County health officials say the first case of the COVID-19 variant from Brazil has been identified in the county.
The Lake County Health Department said in a statement announcing the case on Wednesday that staff are investigating and that the person's travel history was unknown.
“This is the second new variant of COVID-19 to be identified in Lake County since February, and the rise of these new variants could impact the progress we have made this year,” Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said in a statement.
“We can’t afford to let our guard down. Please continue wearing masks, washing hands, keeping 6 feet of distance from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces to keep our communities safe," he added.
The first case of the Brazilian variant P.1 in Illinois was reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health on March 5. In that case, CDPH said a research team at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine confirmed the variant in an individual who hadn't recently traveled outside Illinois.
The Brazil variant is a distinct variation from those seen in Britain and South Africa and thought to be more transmissible than the coronavirus strain that was prevalent at the beginning of the pandemic.
In late January, health officials in Minnesota announced the first case of the variant in the United States, which was a person who traveled to the South American nation.
Health experts believe the current vaccines in the U.S. provide at least some level of protection against these variants, though Chicago's top doctor previously noted one of the three strains poses a bigger risk than others and that is the variant out of South Africa.