The CDC announced today it had identified an Omicron case in the U.S. from November that is now determined to be the earliest-known stateside arrival of the variant.
Previously, the first Omicron case in the country was thought to be an infection in a California woman whose symptoms surfaced on November 25. The newly-identified first U.S. case occurred in a 48-year-old Nebraska man recently returned from Nigeria.
The man was in Nigeria for an international conference, which included attendees from other African countries. He reported “unmasked close contact” with a coughing person on November 20. The Nebraska man tested negative via an antigen test on November 21 before his return to the U.S. On November 24, now back in the states, the so-called “index patient” experienced symptoms, was tested and received a positive result from a local medical center on November 26.
In the interim, he was in contact with family members, all six of whom experienced symptoms between November 24 and 26 and tested positive on December 1. Those cases were later found to be Omicron, as well.
New CDC MMWR describes 6 people w/ the #Omicron variant living in one household in Nebraska in Nov. 2021. Learn more about the spread, symptoms, reinfection potential, and the early hints about how Omicron variant infection may compare to other variants: https://t.co/RocJLiJNnI pic.twitter.com/9LtstL7Bfl
— MMWR (@CDCMMWR) December 28, 2021
The first cases of Omicron worldwide were detected in specimens collected on November 11 in Botswana. Days later, the variant was found in South Africa and spread from there.
Unlike California, Nebraska has not identified a flood of Omicron infections. The state health department web site lists only seven, which are likely those described above. While cases in the state have risen recently, unlike the rest of the U.S. they’re on par with highs from the summer surge, rather than last winter’s surge.