2016/06/13 Predicting Contagiousness to Limit the Spread of Disease

Image Caption: Following exposure to a pathogen, people may become infected, and soon after they may begin to spread disease to others. Some people become infected and also become sick with symptoms (red). Some people become infected and do not exhibit symptoms, but still spread disease (yellow). Some people do not become infected (blue). Prometheus aims to develop tests to predict if people will spread disease, whether or not they show symptoms.

Imagine the workplace during flu season. Some people get sick and display clear symptoms-a warning sign to coworkers to avoid contact and for that individual to stay home. Others are infected, but never or only belatedly exhibit the tell-tale signs of sickness, meaning they can infect coworkers without knowing it. If healthcare professionals had the ability to test in advance whether a person is likely to spread a disease following infection, they could recommend specific measures to treat the person or limit exposure and perhaps keep an outbreak from growing into an epidemic or pandemic.