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20 percent of people spread 80 percent of disease

Flickr | Angelo Amboldi
Flickr | Angelo Amboldi

Do you have patients who are “superspreaders”? These are the people who are much more contagious than others; though they only account for about 20 percent of the population, they transmit about 80 percent of certain infectious diseases.

Scientists are now working to get to the bottom of what makes a superspreader. While a big question has been whether they are created more through behavior or immune system response, The Wall Street Journal reports that some scientists believe both play a part.

“This is a phenomenon that’s been observed, but nobody really fully understands it,” Denise Monack, associate professor in the microbiology and immunology department at Stanford University, told the paper.

One curious facet of a superspreader is that the person spreading the disease sometimes remains asymptomatic. However, scientists aren’t sure what creates this condition. Of course, the importance of learning more about superspreaders is that the information can be used to predict who will become a superspreader, and thereby help contain the disease.

Have you seen superspreaders in your workplace? Do they seem to be caused by immune system conditions or by the sick not being cautious about spreading germs? Let us know in the comments below!

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