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Asymptomatic Shedding of Respiratory Virus among an Ambulatory Population across Seasons.

Abstract

Respiratory viruses are common in human populations, causing significant levels of morbidity. Understanding the distribution of these viruses is critical for designing control methods. However, most data available are from medical records and thus predominantly represent symptomatic infections. Estimates for asymptomatic prevalence are sparse and span a broad range. In this study, we aimed to measure more precisely the proportion of infections that are asymptomatic in a general, ambulatory adult population. We recruited participants from a New York City tourist attraction and administered nasal swabs, testing them for adenovirus, coronavirus, human metapneumovirus, rhinovirus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus. At recruitment, participants completed surveys on demographics and symptomology. Analysis of these data indicated that over 6% of participants tested positive for shedding of respiratory virus. While participants who tested positive were more likely to report symptoms than those who did not, over half of participants who tested positive were asymptomatic.

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