A new strain of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is “likely more communicable” and may present some strange symptoms, according to public health authorities. One particular side effect of XBB.1.16, also known as Arcturus, is conjunctivitis, an ailment more commonly known as “pink eye,” according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The organization warned residents to take precautions after three reported cases of the strain, dubbed “Arcturus,” were discovered in its jurisdiction. However, the agency said local reporting is often delayed and pointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which “predicts that XBB.1.16 currently accounts for 8% of COVID-19 cases in California and 10% nationally.” Observational data, it wrote, “suggests that people infected with XBB.1.16 may be more likely to experience conjunctivitis as a symptom of their COVID infection, along with more traditional COVID symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Conjunctivitis can be painful and itchy, highly contagious and, if left untreated, can cause damage to the cornea.” The warning does note that with limited data, “it is too early to know with certainty if XBB.1.16 is truly associated with higher rates of conjunctivitis, amid an already active allergy season in Southern California,” but said the signs of these symptoms should not be dismissed.

Read it at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

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