Nueces County-Corpus Christi Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez said Friday during the daily joint news briefing that there is evidence that different strains of COVID-19 exist.
"There are things that are changing with the virus, and that’s why it’s so concerning to us," she said.
When the novel coronavirus first arrived in the Coastal Bend, it came with what are now textbook symptoms -- fever, shortness of breath and a dry cough. It was seen as a respiratory illness.
Shortly after, the local health department starting hearing about patients with abdominal issues.
"Even early on, to be honest, with you, we saw people that were complaining of left-sided pain, but (they) were fewer, and far between," she said.
But Rodriguez said since then, those symptoms have become a more common complaint.
"It’s been at least a month where we notice that people will start having gastrointestinal concerns, like they have stomach cramps," she said. "And so now we’re seeing more of it."
Diarrhea, nausea and other gastric issues aren't the only symptoms that have evolved from the SARS-CoV-2 virus' -- commonly referred to as the coronavirus' -- mutation. Other now-common symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell -- neurological symptoms, Rodriguez said -- seemingly also have developed from mutations.
She said the health department is aware of "six or seven different strains" of COVID-19, so she said it makes sense that treatments such as convalescent plasma, Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine, which worked well on hospitalized patients in March, are no longer as effective.
"The patient seemed to recover very quickly with these types of medications (then)," she said. "And then in the end of June, early July, that didn’t seem to be the case. And so now that we’re hearing that there’s different strains of COVID-19: That makes sense to us, because if you have a different strain that you’re not able to treat with the same medications."
Which makes the job of treating the 294 patients currently hospitalized with the disease even more difficult.
"Things are changing," she said. "So every time you think that, maybe, you’ve kinda figured it out, it changes completely."