Marquette County Health Department clarifies definition of super spreader events

North Central UP

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Marquette County Health Department sent out a press release on March 5, 2021 clarifying what a super spreader event is.

The clarification comes after a potential super spreader event occurred at the Calumet Colosseum.

According to MCHD, a super spreader event is an occasion where a gathering of people leads to an outbreak of infections. The spread may occur from one infected attendee. MCHD says super spreader events can result in a marked increase in infections within the community.

A super spreader can infect a larger than average number of people according to MCHD. They say super spreaders are highly infectious but are unaware they are infected and unknowingly spread the virus.

MCHD says becoming a super spreader is dependent upon being highly infectious but people can also become super spreaders depending on what they do. In any pandemic, 10-20% of the population spreads 80% of infections while 70% infect no one and 10-20% are “average” transmitters. Identifying super spreaders is only possible after an event and through an investigation and MCHD says they aren’t readily identifiable by age, sex or other markers. Many people are unaware they are ill during initial infection when they are contagious and may not become aware until they experience symptoms.

According to MCHD, precautions can decrease the chances of becoming infected but it is nearly impossible to be compliant 100% of the time. Some behaviors can increase the risk including;

  • close contact
  • not wearing a mask
  • incorrect or intermittent wearing of a mask
  • indoor vs. outdoor activities
  • sports, especially contact sports
  • poor ventilation

MCHD says transmission can come secondary to playing sports while socializing “off the field” In the case of the Calumet Colosseum virus exposure, MCHD says they initially traced several COVID positive players and spectators who were present at the event. In the days after they say the number doubled and now over 12 people have tested positive for COVID-19 that were present at the event.

MCHD reports that this is consistent with a super spreader event and that case identification typically underestimates by a factor of 4 – 5 of the real number of cases.

According to MCHD because of the players age it could matter very little for them, but for parents and grandparents the situation could be life or death. A recent review of Upper Peninsula fatality rates shows that of people age 50 – 64, fatality is about .5%, for those age 65 – 75 the number is .3% and the fatality rate for individuals 75 – 85 is 12%. MCHD also says 10 – 30% of people who contract the virus suffer from the virus for several months or permanently.

MCHD still asks people who were present at the event to quarantine to prevent spread of the virus.

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