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What science shows about being contagious

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How can you prevent the respiratory virus winter ‘triple infection’ from ruining upcoming vacation trips and family gatherings? COVID symptoms, But does it mean that, for example, just a sniffle at the end of a coronavirus infection is contagious?

So many Covid questions!

It’s a good time to sort out what scientists know and still don’t know about how long viral illnesses like the novel coronavirus, influenza, and RSV have been spreading across the United States.

How long can I be infected with Covid?

Symptoms from one of the Omicron subspecies usually appear 2-4 days after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Infectivity is related to the amount of virus in the body, called the viral load. Channu Lee, Ph.D., an infectious disease physician and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says viral load is likely to peak soon after symptoms begin. This means that he is most contagious a day or so before he develops symptoms and at least for his first 2-3 days afterward.

As the immune system reduces viral load, infectivity should also decrease at the same time.

“If people are still very symptomatic and have a lot of coughing and a lot of upper respiratory symptoms, they’re probably more contagious,” said Dr. A. Harvard Medical School of Infectious Diseases. Kosimi, specialist.

However, it can be difficult to tell if you are still contagious during the waning period of COVID-19.

of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention We recommend that anyone experiencing moderate to severe symptoms isolate for 10 days. It advises that people should be considered infected for at least 5 days, or 5 days after a positive test (counted as day zero).

Study of 66 people with non-severe Covid It was published The New England Journal of Medicine in July reported that the median time before participants were likely to become free of infection was 6 days when the delta variant of the virus predominated and 8 for omicron waves. It turned out to be day.

according to study in october Of 4,565 people with Covid, “Overall, existing data suggest that infectivity (using viral cultures as a surrogate) beyond 10 days is possible, although it is not common.”

Investigators have called for further investigation into whether people remain contagious.

However, there have been cases of immunocompromised people who have remained infectious for months, according to various infectious disease experts.

PCR testing is good for diagnosing Covid as long as you rely on Covid testing to determine if someone is still infected. They can detect fragments of the virus that do not pose a risk of transmission to others for weeks or months after infection, so they are not reliable for determining ongoing infectivity.

At-home rapid antigen tests are not perfect either. Researchers have relied on what is known as a viral culture test, which involves taking coronavirus swabs and seeing if the virus can grow in the lab, as the best surrogate for infectivity. But everyday people do not have access to such tests.

recently study Of the 40 people infected with Covid, three-quarters tested positive six days after the first positive test or the onset of symptoms, whichever came first.

As part of the study, participants also underwent so-called viral culture tests to see if scientists could grow the virus from swabs in the lab. It is considered the best surrogate of infectivity.

About half of that group had tested negative for viral cultures at that time, suggesting they were not contagious.

Kosimi, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School, was the study’s lead author and said that if your symptoms are improving but you test negative after day five of Covid, you’re likely not infected. said.

She also said that even if an uncompromised person feels well by day 11 and tests positive for antigens, it is “very unlikely” that the person is still infected. said.

According to the CDC, if you have no symptoms after the fifth day, or if your Covid symptoms improve and you are fever-free for 24 hours, you can end your isolation period.

From day 6 to 10, you can go out, but you must wear a mask.

In these contexts, there is no need to test to end the quarantine period. According to the CDC, if you have two consecutive negative rapid antigen tests 48 hours apart, you can remove your mask early.

However, there are conditions.

“Even if it’s less contagious, you still have to wear a mask until the 10th day because theoretically it’s still contagious,” Lee said.

How contagious would I be if Have you had Covid, or are you fully vaccinated and have a breakthrough infection?

Several the study Indicated That vaccination helps the body eliminate the coronavirus more quickly.

But most studies have been in patients infected with older variants, Lee said.

“The impact of previous immunity on infectivity is less clear than in the omicron variant.”

More news about Triple Demic

On average, unvaccinated people actually take longer to beat the infection, says TH Chan, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health, in a recent paper in the eLife journal. Senior author Yonatan H. Grad, Ph.D. He and his colleagues have come to this conclusion.

“I don’t know the duration. Infectivity‘ said Grad in an email.

Is it contagious if I am taking paxlobid?

Investigation It was published In July’s Clinical Infectious Diseases, taking paxlobid found that it accelerated the clearance of the coronavirus, and the authors said it may reduce infectivity.

Recently research Given that people not taking paxlovid also commonly rebound, it raises questions about whether paxlovid is causing cases of viral rebound.

Dr. Donald Milton, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Maryland, said:

Therefore, in the event of a rebound, the CDC recommends restarting the isolation clock at zero days.

How long can I be contagious with influenza and other viral illnesses?

Experts say that influenza, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and the common cold are generally most contagious one to two days before symptoms begin, and are most contagious for several days thereafter.

The CDC recommends that people who have the flu stay home without fever-reducing drugs for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides or at least 4-5 days after symptoms improve.

2010 study identified a close correlation between reduced influenza symptoms, particularly fever, and reduced viral shedding indicative of infectivity.

“If you’re really sick and have a fever, you might be contagious for a little while longer,” said Aubrey Gordon, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. But having mild symptoms doesn’t mean you can’t get it.”

Typical cold symptoms include congestion, cough, runny nose and mild fever.A few Cold symptoms last 10 to 14 daysaccording to the CDC.

Adult colds may contain RSV, a virus that can pose a serious threat to children under the age of two. Dr David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, is contagious only as long as he is symptomatic. ”

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