The Maine CDC says a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 has not been detected in Maine, as of yet.

Dr. Nirav Shah says mutating into new strains is just the nature of a virus, and COVID-19 is no exception. One strain that's been detected in several other countries, especially the UK has been named B117. It's also been found in Colorado, California, and Florida. Dr. Shah says, although it hasn't been detected in Maine, it's possible that it's here in small numbers and just hasn't come to the CDC's attention, as of yet.

B117 has been found to be more contagious than COVID-19, although it's spread the same way, through droplets. Dr. Shah wasn't specific about what makes it more contagious, but said that it seems to spread more easily. In other words, Shah says, if you come in contact with someone who has B117, your chances of catching it are greater than with COVID-19. And then you're more apt to spread it to other people.

The good news is that the symptoms of B117 appear to be less severe. So, although your chances of catching it are greater, you shouldn't become as sick as you could with COVID-19. And, he says the current vaccine for COVID-19 should be effective against B117.

Shah says the way to defend yourself against B117 is by doing all the things we're already doing: socially distancing; wearing masks; avoiding crowds and public gatherings; and washing hands often and well. In fact, he says we may want to increase our practices of these protocols to avoid getting sick.

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