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What to know about latest omicron COVID subvariant, BA.5

There is still a lot to learn about the subvariant, but experts do know it is considered highly transmissible.

CLEVELAND — According to the CDC, a new COVID-19 omicron subvariant known as BA.5 is now dominating here in the United States.

"From the information we have so far, BA.5 is causing disease similar to other Omicron variants, which has been less severe than the previous waves," Dr. Daniel Rhoads, microbiologist for Cleveland Clinic, said. "Some of that is probably due to underlying immunity because people have been infected or have been vaccinated, and some of that might be due to the nature of the virus itself."

Rhoads adds the coronavirus has continued to mutate throughout the pandemic, and that's how variants and subvariants emerge. When it comes to BA.5 specifically, though, there is still a lot to learn. However, experts do know it is considered highly transmissible.

Symptoms also seem to be wide-ranging, and can include a fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and a persistent cough. Rhoads says all of the normal precautions people have been taking during the pandemic are still recommended, like wearing a mask when needed and getting vaccinated.

While BA.5 is the dominant subvariant right now (45.1% of all new cases in Ohio as of July 2), researchers are also keeping a close eye on another one overseas.

"BA.2.75 is a variant that has emerged recently," Rhoads noted. "It was first detected in India, and it's been identified in more than a dozen countries, including the U.S.

"t kind of seems like an up-and-coming variant. We don't know anything, really, except that it is emerging."

If you are curious about infection rates in your own community, you can always check your local health department's website.

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