First documented case: 20-year-old asymptomatic woman infects 5 members of her family
Deadly transmission: The SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted person-to-person via the aerosol route by an asymptomatic carrier – which is why everyone should be wearing masks.
A 20-year-old woman, who showed no symptoms of the new coronavirus and had normal chest CT imaging results but ended up passing the infection to five of her relatives. Ever since scientists have been asking if a person can have this infection and not be ill. The new case study offers decisive evidence that the virus can be spread asymptomatically, which could make efforts to curb the outbreak even more challenging, say experts. The researchers of the current study are calling it the first documented case of transmission from an asymptomatic person with normal chest CT findings.
“A novel coronavirus has resulted in an ongoing outbreak of viral pneumonia in China. Person-to-person transmission has been demonstrated, but, to our knowledge, transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from an asymptomatic carrier with normal chest computed tomography (CT) findings has not been reported,” say the researchers in their findings published in JAMA.
“One previous study reported an asymptomatic 10-year-old boy with COVID-19 infection, but he had abnormalities on chest CT. If the findings in this report of presumed transmission by an asymptomatic carrier are replicated, the prevention of COVID-19 infection would prove challenging. The mechanism by which asymptomatic carriers could acquire and transmit the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 requires further study,” says the team. The team includes experts from Department of Medical Imaging, Henan Provincial People’s Hospital, China; Department of Radiology, Anyang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China; Department of Radiology and Interventional, the Fifth People’s Hospital of Anyang, China; Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, China; and Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
A previous report by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — which analyzed a total of 72,314 cases till February 11, 2020 — found that 889 cases or 1.2% were asymptomatic. The current research letter describes that patient 1 (the presumed asymptomatic carrier), a 20-year-old woman, lives in Wuhan and traveled to Anyang on January 10, 2020. She initially met with patients 2 and 3 on January 10. On January 13, she accompanied 5 relatives (patients 2 through 6) to visit another hospitalized relative in Anyang District Hospital. There was no report of COVID-19 at this hospital.
“In January 2020, we enrolled a familial cluster of 5 patients with fever and respiratory symptoms, who were admitted to the Fifth People’s Hospital of Anyang, China, and 1 asymptomatic family member,” say medical experts. All patients underwent chest CT imaging. Real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for COVID-19 nucleic acid were performed using nasopharyngeal swabs, describe the doctors. The relatives — patients 2 to 5 — developed a fever and respiratory symptoms between January 23 and January 26 and were admitted to the hospital on the same day. All these patients had test results positive for COVID-19 within one day. –Meaww
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