COVID-19 Resources

Why Testing is Crucial in the Absence of Classic COVID-19 Symptoms

Aug. 1, 2020

A UC Health physician says COVID-19 testing is important for those who have been exposed or who have symptoms that mimic other illnesses.

A test is the definitive answer for whether a person has COVID-19 — especially when other signs aren’t so clear. Knowing this answer can potentially save lives.

That’s the message from Senu Apewokin, MD, infectious diseases specialist at UC Health. Dr. Apewokin’s specialty is caring for people with immunocompromised conditions, specifically transplant recipients who take medications that suppress their immune systems.

It’s critical to test those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and don’t have symptoms. 

“Some never develop symptoms,” Dr. Apewokin said. “Those people are necessary to identify because they can spread the virus to another person.  They can spread the virus to someone who is elderly, who would probably be very sick if exposed to SARS-CoV-2.”

Those who are sick with symptoms that mimic seasonal influenza should also be tested for COVID-19, he said.

“Because there's considerable overlap between the symptoms of these two illnesses, one cannot rely on symptoms alone,” he said.

He also noted that it’s important children and adolescents get tested, too. 

“Even though kids or teenagers may not be sick, they may be sources of transmission to a parent or a grandparent, and that secondary transmission could be fatal to that individual,” Dr. Apewokin said.