Recent tests of wastewater samples in Houston show “an ongoing and uncontrolled spread of the community variant in the UK,” according to the Houston Health Department.
HUSTON – The more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus, first discovered in the United Kingdom, is spreading rapidly through Houston, according to the Houston Department of Health.
They cited recent tests that found the option of 31 of Houston’s 39 treatment plants. Earlier tests on February 8th found the option in 21
Editor’s note: The above video on the use of wastewater to track COVID-19 originally aired in September.
The health department now says the increase reveals “an ongoing and uncontrolled spread of the option community in the UK”.
“The proliferation of the variant in the United Kingdom in our wastewater shows that it is actively spreading in our city,” agreed Dr. David Perce, Houston’s chief medical officer.
Results of wastewater samples for other highly transmissible variants, including variants for South Africa, Brazil and California, are pending.
Nine cases of the UK option, one case of the South African option, two cases of the Brazil option and 11 cases of the California option have been confirmed in Houston.
Experts say that at least 40% of people who have the virus have no symptoms, but they excrete the virus in their feces.
“I am concerned about this new data on the British strain of the virus in Houston, especially at a time when the state of Texas is easing mandates for proven measures to reduce transmission and ultimately save lives,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Turner said Monday that Houston’s positivity rate is up 13.1 percent.
The Houston Department of Health and Houston Water began testing wastewater for COVID-19 last May. The results help to quickly identify emerging outbreaks and pinpoint the exact locations where tests and vaccines are needed.
The project is a partnership with Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine.