Quilliam R, Cross P, Williams AP, Edwards-Jones G, Salmon RL, Rigby D, Chalmers RM, Thomas DR & Jones DL (2013) Subclinical infection and asymptomatic carriage of gastrointestinal zoonoses: Occupational exposure, environmental pathways, and the anonymous spread of disease. Epidemiology and Infection, 141 (10), pp. 2011-2021. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268813001131
Asymptomatic carriage of gastrointestinal zoonoses is more common in people whose profession involves them working directly with domesticated animals. Subclinical infections (defined as an infection in which symptoms are either asymptomatic or sufficiently mild to escape diagnosis) are important within a community as unknowing (asymptomatic) carriers of pathogens do not change their behaviour to prevent the spread of disease; therefore the public health significance of asymptomatic human excretion of zoonoses should not be underestimated. However, optimal strategies for managing diseases where asymptomatic carriage instigates further infection remain unresolved, and the impact on disease management is unclear. In this review we consider the environmental pathways associated with prolonged antigenic exposure and critically assess the significance of asymptomatic carriage in disease outbreaks Although screening high-risk groups for occupationally acquired diseases would be logistically problematical, there may be an economic case for identifying and treating asymptomatic carriage if the costs of screening and treatment are less than the costs of identifying and treating those individuals infected by asymptomatic hosts.
Acquired immunity; community epidemiology; disease management; environmental medicine; public health
Epidemiology and Infection: Volume 141, Issue 10