HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus is here in southeast Texas.
Researchers working with the Houston Health Department report they've found the variant at eight of 39 wastewater plants in the city.
"Omicron is present in Houston's wastewater, although a case has not yet been confirmed in the city," a tweet by the health department said.
Lauren Stadler, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, said the results show the variant present in stool samples.
"We will continue to look for it this week," said Stadler. "To see if it's increasing in prevalence across the city, but I think it's pretty safe to say it's here."
There might be some positive news about the variant. Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease expert with Memorial Hermann, said preliminary science shows the vaccines offer some protection against omicron and the variant isn't as deadly as the delta variant.
"If you're going to have a new variant that comes on to the scene, you really want it to cause less severe disease, because overall, that will be less stress on the health care system, fewer hospitalizations, few deaths. Cautious optimism with approach to omicron," said Dr. Yancey.
Dr. Yancey said boosters offer your body the best protection in the fight against COVID. She also strongly urged parents to vaccinate their children against both COVID and influenza. She said flu season is likely to be worse this year.