OSU Health Expert Discusses Difference Between Asymptomatic, Presymptomatic

Jun 9, 2020

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 have continued to increase at a low rate, but health experts are urging people to still take the virus seriously even as more businesses reopen.

The World Health Organization stirred confusion after saying it's "very rare" for people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic to spread the virus. The WHO backtracked those comments saying there's still a lot of unknowns in that area.

Susan Koletar, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Ohio State University's College of Medicine, says it's important to note that asymptomatic means people who never show symptoms of the virus, while presymptomatic people can have mild symptoms but don't notice until they develop into something more serious.

"People may not, or may not even be aware that they have any symptoms. I think there's that critical period where the virus is multiplying enough that it can, the viral load if you will, is high enough that it will be more easily spread," says Koletar.

Koletar emphasizes this as a reason why it's important to wear a mask.