About XBB.1.5, the Latest Omicron Sub-Variant

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) data on COVID-19 variants, the newest omicron sub-variant, XBB.1.5, continues to become more prevalent and makes up an estimated one-third of COVID-19 infections in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Maryland.
Based on what is known about the XBB variants, someone infected with an earlier omicron variant may continue to be susceptible to reinfection with XBB.1.5. The variant is more transmissible than other omicron variants, according to the CDC. We are still learning if it will cause more severe illness than past sub-variants, but we know that people with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of potentially serious illness.
The symptoms of XBB.1.5 infection include many of the same symptoms as infection with an earlier version of the coronavirus. Anyone with symptoms should take a COVID-19 test. It is the only way to be certain whether the infection is caused by COVID-19 or by a different germ, such as the flu virus.
According to the CDC, symptoms include:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Body aches or headache
Fever or chills
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Take steps to prevent COVID-19 and use approaches that work to prevent the spread of viruses:
Get vaccinated and get a booster dose. Vaccines and boosters effectively prevent severe disease and death, yet most adults in the U.S. are not up to date and have not received the new bivalent booster. Make an appointment at a health care provider, pharmacy, or local health department office. Check vaccines.gov or call the Health Department’s Call Center at (410)-996-1005.
Wash hands often.
Stay home when feeling sick.
Improve ventilation where you live or work. Keep air moving.
Test to identify if you have COVID-19 and need to take precautions to prevent the spread to others.
Choose to wear a mask indoors and in crowded settings, particularly if you have weakened immunity and when the COVID-19 community level is high.
Consider your risk of infection and/or of those you live with.