CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A new subvariant of Covid-19 is starting to spread around the United States and it’s being linked to a new symptom.

Arcturus is the newest variant to emerge from the pandemic, and it has been deemed even more transmissible than previous strains. Health experts say that it has one additional mutation in the spike protein which in lab studies shows an increase in infections.

Although it does have a higher transmissibility rate than previous strains, it has not yet shown signs of a more severe illness. Symptoms from the variant are a little different from previous subvariants. What sets it apart is that it causes conjunctivitis or pink eye, which is often combined with itchiness.

Itchy or “sticky” eyes have been most often reported in children. 22News spoke with Baystate Health who says that although the pink eye isn’t particularly new for Covid, they are seeing more of it now.

“If you recall, conjunctivitis has been reported even early on in the pandemic, but it seems like it’s being anecdotally associated with the new subvariant because in the cases that have been reported so it’s not something new but it’s more common,” said Dr. Armando Paez of Baystate Health Chief, Division of Infectious Disease.

Baystate Health recommends that people get the updated bivalent vaccine to protect themselves from this new strain.

It’s allergy season right now, and there are other common viruses that can cause pink eye. Health experts suggest that if you are experiencing these symptoms to not just write it off as just allergies, instead go ahead and take a Covid test or talk with your healthcare provider
to determine if you need treatment.