Ohio officials are searching for the longest-known COVID-19 patient in the state who has been infected for over two years. The individual’s identity is unknown, and it is unclear whether they are currently hospitalized.
The virus has been detected through wastewater sampling in a 40-mile area in Ohio, and it has been traced back to early 2021. This indicates that one person is carrying and shedding the virus in the wastewater. Identifying the patient would enable officials to understand the patient’s condition and the potential risks posed by the virus.
Potential Danger of the Extent of Mutation of COVID-19
Dr. Marc Johnson, a microbiologist at the University of Missouri, has warned that the mutations in the virus detected in the wastewater would be serious enough to make it a “variant of concern” if it began circulating in the population. Johnson has urged officials to quickly find and isolate the patient to prevent further spread of the virus and mutations.
The scientist is uncertain about the individual’s level of contagiousness and how they have been able to remain infected for such a prolonged period. According to researchers, the individual frequently travels from the small city of Washington Court House, located approximately 40 miles northeast of Columbus, Ohio. It is probable that they reside in Washington Court House and commute to Columbus for work or school.
It is possible that the virus has undergone significant mutations within this individual, rendering it incapable of spreading. Instead, the virus has adapted itself to persist within its host for a prolonged period without causing noticeable symptoms. The variant is believed to be a mutated version of either the Alpha or Wuhan strain.
The virus has managed to remain undetected within the patient’s body and continue to replicate without being targeted by the immune system. This phenomenon can occur when the virus reaches “immuno-privileged sites” in the body, such as the eyes, brain, or fertility organs like the testes.
Although the likelihood is low, there is a possibility that the virus may acquire additional mutations that could enable it to begin spreading within the population. The patient is most likely asymptomatic, or they may be experiencing symptoms resembling those of a bowel condition like Crohn’s disease, such as cramping and diarrhea.