A 53-year-old man identified as Steve Walsh, 53, infected at least eleven people in the UK with the new coronavirus without ever going to China, according to information from the British National Health Service, the NHS. The boy has been treated by the world press as a “super contaminant”.
The term refers to people who are more able to transmit infections. This is because not all human beings are equal when it comes to the contamination of infectious diseases. In fact, it was established by science more than two decades ago that around one in five people transmit infections more easily than most.
This is seriously the case for Walsh, who was reportedly infected during a trip to Singapore, where he attended a conference with his company. Before returning home, he spent a few days in the French Alps and then in Mallorca, Spain. He transmitted the virus to five people in the UK, five others in France and one on the Spanish island.
The Brit was diagnosed with the disease on February 6. In a statement released on Tuesday, 11, Walsh said he was "fully recovered" but is still quarantined as a precaution. "I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care," he said.
Why does a person become a “super contaminant”?
There are many theories, but no definitive answer to explain how a person becomes a "super contaminant". Some researchers believe that there is a relationship with the spreader's immune system, which may not be as good at fighting the virus. On the other hand, it is speculated that the immunity of these people may be so good that they themselves do not feel the symptoms and, therefore, do not isolate themselves and spread the disease.
However, there is probably a relationship with multiple factors, including the fact that the individual has been infected by a higher dose of the virus or by more than one pathogen. One thing is certain: it is impossible to know who will be the next “super contaminant”.
Cases like Walsh's have been reported in epidemics of other diseases. In 2015, a patient transmitted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) to 82 people in a hospital in South Korea. Two people are also believed to have been responsible for infecting 50 others with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1995.