DALLAS — Another COVID-19 variant is raising concerns, and according to health officials, there are five reported cases of the mu variant in Dallas County.
The World Health Organization is monitoring mu as a variant of interest.
"Mu is now found in 49 of 50 states in America," said Dr. Joe Chang, Chief Medical Officer of Parkland Health and Hospital System. "However, it is still only comprising about one percent of the samples, so it's pretty small. Delta is certainly the one that is doing the most damage. But if this particular form of COVID-19 has an advantage to its survival, we will start to see the mu grow in proportion as well."
As of Wednesday, Parkland has 250 active and recovering COVID-19 patients. The number has nearly reached the winter surge.
Dr. Chang said from a hospital's perspective, the type of variant doesn't make a difference in terms of treating the patients.
"The medicines and treatments don't change," he said, adding that symptoms are similar among the mutations as well.
Dr. Beth Kassanoff-Piper, President of the Dallas County Medical Society hopes the mu variant will stop spreading.
"Interestingly, it does not seem to be taking off in terms of increasing in numbers the way the delta variant did," Kassanoff-Piper said. "And this happens. Some variants just are going to be seen in a small percentage of people and basically die off, and they don't become a bigger problem like the delta variant."
She said the mu variant is being studied, but in the meantime, the public can help by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and stopping the spread of COVID-19. This will help prevent further variants from developing. The concern is the more the virus mutates, the less effective the vaccines may be.
"Get a [COVID-19] test if you have any symptoms at all, or if you have an exposure to somebody," said Dr. Kassanoff-Piper. "Do everything you can to protect yourself and to protect those around you."
Dr. Philip Huang with Dallas County Health and Human Services reiterates that majority of people hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
"Ninety percent of persons in the hospitals are unvaccinated. These are preventable. The vaccines are really effective," Huang said.
He said it's especially important to be vaccinated to protect the children who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.
Grocery stores, drugstores, Fair Park, Ellis Davis Field House and many other locations in Dallas County have vaccines readily available.