The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) confirmed on Saturday Wyoming's first case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, also known as the "UK Variant."
WDH said in a media release the case was identified in an adult male in Wyoming's Teton County.
The release said health officials in the state expected to find the variant at some point.
“It is not unusual for variants to emerge with viruses and that’s been happening during this pandemic with COVID-19,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “However, this strain is more transmissible than previous COVID-19 variants and that is a serious concern.”
The variant does not seem to cause more severe illness, Harrist said.
“But a variant spreading more easily between people means the number of infections could grow causing more illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths,” she said. “That’s something no one wants.”
Current approved vaccines for COVID-19 are believed to be effective against the variant strain.
A confirmed case of the UK Variant has yet to be detected in Montana.