FLiRT: Latest Covid Variant Raises Concerns In US

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The latest COVID-19 variant, known as FLiRT, is swiftly spreading across the United States. Emerging from the Omicron JN.1 lineage, these variants, marked by the KP.2 and KP.1.1 mutations, are believed to be more contagious than their predecessors.

As per the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), cases linked to the KP.2 variant are surging rapidly, while the KP 1.1 variant of FLiRT is also circulating within the US.

But why the name FLiRT? The moniker is derived from the technical designations of their mutations, as explained by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Designated as severe forms by the World Health Organization (WHO), they are under careful observation.

Currently, two FLiRT variants—KP.2 and KP.1.1—are documented in the United States.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with FLiRT include sore throat, cough, congestion, fatigue, headache, body pain, fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and potential loss of taste and smell, according to reports.

Dr. Sushila Kataria, Senior Director of Internal Medicine at Medanta, Gurugram, notes, "The KP.2 and KP 1.1 variants exhibit new mutations that enhance their transmissibility compared to previous Omicron variants. While they share symptoms with earlier strains like fever and cough, their heightened contagion underscores the need for heightened vigilance."

The severity of symptoms often hinges on underlying health conditions and an individual's current level of immunity.The recent surge in the United States raises concerns of a potential wave of illnesses this summer. Unvaccinated individuals and those with compromised immunity face heightened vulnerability to these mutations.

Reports suggest that this variant spreads readily through respiratory droplets, posing risks to all, particularly the unvaccinated and immunocompromised individuals.

As of now, FLiRT variants have not been detected in India, and there have been no significant reports of increased hospitalizations in the US.

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Note : The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns about your health or are experiencing symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. They will be able to assess your specific situation and provide you with personalised advice and treatment based on your symptoms, body type, allergies (if any), existing medical conditions etc. It is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health.

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