DENVER, Colo (KMGH) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced Thursday it had confirmed the state’s first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in a woman who recently traveled to southern Africa.
The CDPHE said the woman was fully vaccinated but had not yet received a booster dose. She is experiencing minor symptoms, according to the department.
The Colorado State Public Health Laboratory sequenced the specimen and found the variant was present. Colorado is the third state to identify the omicron variant. Other cases were confirmed in California and Minnesota.
The CDPHE said the Tri-County Health Department investigated the woman’s positive test, and CDPHE epidemiologists followed up to sequence the specimen’s genome because of the woman’s travel history.
The CDPHE says the woman’s close contacts in Colorado have tested negative and the woman is in isolation. The CDPHE is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the case investigation.
The CDPHE said the woman’s specimen had the S gene target failure that is a signature of the new omicron variant, which was first detected in November in South Africa.
Colorado public health officials said earlier this week they were using diagnostic testing, clinical sequencing and wastewater sequencing surveillance to look for the omicron variant in the state.
“There is still a lot to learn about the omicron variant, but due to some of the mutations on the spike protein of the virus, it is possible that omicron might be more transmissible or immune response may not be as effective,” the CDPHE said in a news release.
Officials have continued to urge people to get vaccinated and to get their booster shots in general, but also as a way to combat the unknowns surrounding the new variant. The state screens about 15% of positive cases for sequencing for variants.