By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health
You may be surprised to learn that asymptomatic people (those with no Coronavirus symptoms such as fever, coughing, etc.) can spread the virus to others.
You should know that people can also contract the disease and remain symptomless. It’s also clear that people who do develop symptoms could potentially spread the virus before they even knew they had it.
In a May 27, 2020 study by the Journal of American Medicine, it was reported that more than 40% of study participants who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic.
Studies have shown that people can be contagious in the first several days of having the virus, before they show symptoms. A Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey found that 54% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 couldn’t recall how they got it. The remaining 46% of respondents who tested positive reported that they had close contact with someone who was sick, such as a family member, before they developed the disease.
This indicates that the majority of people could have contracted COVID-19 from an asymptomatic person they’d been in close contact with.
It is important to know that the virus that causes the illness COVID-19, spreads through respiratory droplets, such as saliva and mucus. This means it primarily spreads when people who have the virus cough, sneeze and talk in the presence of other people. Direct contact with people who are sick also spreads the virus.
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to only socialize with those inside your household, always practice good personal hygiene including washing your hands often, stay home when you can and definitely when you’re sick, wear a face covering over your nose and mouth when you go out, keep a 6 foot distance from people and avoid contact with others who are sick.
For more information about how you can prevent getting and spreading the coronavirus and what steps the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is taking to protect our communities, please visit: https://publichealthsbc.org/.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP is a graduate of Justus-Liebig-University Medical School Giessen, Germany. He completed Residency training in Munich, Germany and Tucson, AZ and is board certified in Family Practice (Germany) and Internal Medicine (USA). Dr. Ansorg is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and is on the Medical Staff at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. He has many years of experience in different clinical settings including 10 years of Private Practice and Urgent Care in Munich, Germany as well as 11 years of Internal Medicine/Geriatrics in Arizona as well as 4 years at the Santa Barbara County Health Care Center. Dr. Ansorg has served as Public Health Officer for Santa Barbara County since April 2019.