#2MinRead: Not every cough is COVID
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Five months ago, there were more than 100 distinct infectious diseases that might have explained that cough. Right now, there seems to be only one disease: COVID-19. How about tuberculosis? Whooping cough? The diagnosis of disease can be summed up in a simple mathematical formula. When somebody develops a cough and a fever, doctors ask themselves three questions:

1) What diseases can cause these signs and symptoms?
2) How common are the diseases themselves? and
3) How often will each individual disease produce cough and fever?

Diseases that are common — and that commonly produce these symptoms — rise to the top of the list. The mathematical basis for generating a ranked differential diagnosis list based on statistical probabilities is known as Bayesian analysis.

Over the past 3 decades, team of researchers and infectious disease specialists have developed and expanded a massive set of computer spreadsheets, which follow the actual numbers involved. For example, if a group of American adults is experiencing severe illness, cough and fever, the most likely diagnosis is COVID-19. In this scenario, an infectious disease database platform ranks COVID-19 “number 1,” with a statistical likelihood of 87%. However, the program also lists an additional 76 infectious diseases. (Influenza is the second most likely diagnosis, with a probability of 8%.)

If the statistical likelihood for COVID-19, in this case, is 87%, then the possibility for another diagnosis is 13%. For the past 5 months, thousands of physicians worldwide have been confronted by waves of people with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Inevitably, the “art and science” of diagnosis will be degraded by a certainty that the next patient who enters my clinic will also have COVID-19. But every patient is unique, and we must continue to discount alternative diseases — even at the height of this global pandemic.

Source: https://www.healio.com/news/infectious-disease/20200713/not-every-cough-is-covid?utm_source=selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news&m_bt=5453793097330


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