Nov 27, 2020 10:49 AM

Hutchinson doctor sees potential for presymptomatic COVID-19 spread

Posted Nov 27, 2020 10:49 AM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Dr. Scott Pauly with the Hutchinson Clinic had hoped earlier in the pandemic to catch asymptomatic patients through widespread community testing, but at this point, there is much more of a danger of presymptomatic spread within the community.

"The presymptomatic patients, meaning those who have already been exposed, but do not yet know they are infected, meaning they don't have symptoms as of yet, are likely the primary drivers of the transmission in the community at this time," Pauly said.

The danger is, with as widespread as the disease is now, you're likely to have been exposed and not know it.

"Because they're presymptomatic, they're going about their daily business, maybe celebrating the holidays," Pauly said. "Unbeknownst to them, they're spreading that virus to their friends, family and colleagues. Once they do develop symptoms, you look backwards and say, where was I, who did I expose myself to, prior to me realizing I was infected."

That's one of the reasons why you would wear a mask in public, so that if you are an unknown spreader, you can minimize that effect.

"When somebody's presymptomatic, they're not necessarily cognizant of where they are going or who they are around," Pauly said. "Those things are easy to forget in the moment. It also highlights why it's so important, though, for contact tracing for this virus. When we do have somebody who becomes diagnosed, we look backwards 48 hours prior to their diagnosis and or prior to their symptoms, because we know that the people they were around during that time are just as at risk as the people they were around at the time of symptom onset or shortly thereafter."

According to the Reno County COVID-19 dashboard, as of Wednesday at 11:44 a.m., there were 1,022 active cases of COVID-19 in the community.