COVID-19 Glossary

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ANTIBODY TEST:

Also known as Serology Testing.  Antibodies are produced by the immune system to help stop intruders from harming the body.  Antibody tests look for specific antibodies made by your immune system in response to a specific virus.  Antibody tests are not used to diagnose an active coronavirus infection. At this time it is not known if the presence of antibodies provides immunity to the coronavirus.

ANTIGEN TEST:

Also known as a rapid test.  This is a type of diagnostic test that detects specific proteins on the surface of the virus. Positive results are usually quite accurate but negative results need to be confirmed with additional testing.

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CLINICAL TESTING:           

The main purpose of clinical testing is to diagnose a particular health condition in an individual.  An additional benefit is data Public Health can use to keep the community safe.

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION:     

Community transmission is where it is not clear where the person was infected with the disease. It happens when we can no longer identify a link to a known case or link the case to travel from a hotspot location.

CONFIRMED:                       

Confirmed cases are those with a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19.  A diagnostic test is a test that can show if someone has an active infection. For Coronavirus, a molecular test is the most common confirmatory test (e.g., PCR).

CONTACT TRACING:         

Contact tracing is a public health method for stopping the spread of disease within a community. The process involves identifying people who have COVID-19 and their contacts who may have been exposed. Then working with the case and contacts to isolate, quarantine, and stop the spread of the virus. 

CONTAGIOUS:                    

The period during an infectious illness where spread from one person to another by direct or indirect contact can occur.

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DIAGNOSTIC TEST:            

A diagnostic test is used to identify a particular health condition.  The diagnostic test for COVID-19 tells you if you are currently infected with the coronavirus.

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EPIDEMIOLOGIST:             

A public health professional who investigates patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy.

EPIDEMIOLOGY:     

 The study of the causes of health outcomes and diseases in populations. It is also using that information to improve the health of a population. 

EPI-LINK:                              

Epidemiological link.  A case in which the patient has had contact with one or more persons who have or had the disease and it is reasonable to assume they were infected during that contact. 

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HOUSEHOLD TRANSMISSION:      

Household transmission is a case in which the patient is from the same household with one or more persons who have or had the disease and it is reasonable to assume they were infected within that household.

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INFECTIOUS:                       

Likely to be transmitted person to person.  A person with COVID-19 is considered infectious for 10 days after their symptoms start as that is when they can spread the disease to other people. 

ISOLATION:                         

Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from people who are not infected. Isolation helps prevent spread of disease that occurs once a person knows they are infected with the virus.  Also see Quarantine.

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MOLECULAR TEST: See PCR test

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PCR TEST:                             

Also known as a molecular test.  The COVID-19 PCR test is the most reliable diagnostic test.  It’s used to look for pieces of the coronavirus in a person’s respiratory tract.

PPE:                                        

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE", is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.  For COVID-19, PPE generally refers to equipment used by health care professionals and includes gowns, surgical masks, N-95 respirators, face shields, and gloves.

PRESUMPTIVE:                   

Presumptive cases are people with COVID-19-like symptoms who had close contact with a confirmed case but have not been confirmed with a positive test.

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QUARANTINE:                    

Quarantine is used to keep someone who MIGHT have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur BEFORE a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus. Also see Isolation.

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RAPID TEST: See Antigen test

RECOVERED:                       

A COVID-19 case who is alive 60 days after their first symptoms or collection of their first positive test is considered recovered.

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SEROLOGY TESTING: See Antibody Test

SOCIAL DISTANCING:        

Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household.  For COVID-19 this means keeping at least 6 feet of space between you and others whenever possible.

SURVEILLANCE TESTING:

The main purpose of surveillance testing is to understand the extent and severity of an outbreak and plan for the coming weeks and months.  Public Health uses surveillance data to monitor important indicators such as whether the disease is moving into new areas or whether it is affecting some groups of people more than other groups of people.

SYMPTOM ONSET:            

The date on which symptoms first began.  For COVID-19 symptoms could include fever, sore throat, dry cough, shortness of breath, body aches, fatigue, and other symptoms.

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TRAVEL RELATED:              

A case in which the patient has recently traveled to an identified city or region and it is reasonable to assume they were infected, in that location, due to contact(s) made during that travel.

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VIRAL LOAD:                       

Viral load is the amount of virus present. With most viruses, higher viral loads are associated with worse outcomes. People with higher viral loads may also shed more virus, which makes them more contagious, compounding the danger of spreading disease more widely.

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