Background: Although many viral respiratory illnesses are transmitted within households, the evidence base for SARS-CoV-2 is nascent. We sought to characterize SARS-CoV-2 transmission within US households and estimate the household secondary infection rate (SIR) to inform strategies to reduce transmission.
Methods: We recruited laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients and their household contacts in Utah and Wisconsin during March 22-April 25, 2020. We interviewed patients and all household contacts to obtain demographics and medical histories. At the initial household visit, 14 days later, and when a household contact became newly symptomatic, we collected respiratory swabs from patients and household contacts for testing by SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR and sera for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies testing by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We estimated SIR and odds ratios (OR) to assess risk factors for secondary infection, defined by a positive rRT-PCR or ELISA test.
Results: Thirty-two (55%) of 58 households had evidence of secondary infection among household contacts. The SIR was 29% (n = 55/188; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 23-36%) overall, 42% among children (<18 years) of the COVID-19 patient and 33% among spouses/partners. Household contacts to COVID-19 patients with immunocompromised conditions had increased odds of infection (OR: 15.9, 95% CI: 2.4-106.9). Household contacts who themselves had diabetes mellitus had increased odds of infection (OR: 7.1, 95% CI: 1.2-42.5).
Conclusions: We found substantial evidence of secondary infections among household contacts. People with COVID-19, particularly those with immunocompromising conditions or those with household contacts with diabetes, should take care to promptly self-isolate to prevent household transmission.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; contact tracing; household; transmission.
Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America 2020. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.