Word of the Week: Contagious

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Each week, Verywell explains a term from health, medicine, science, or technology.


How to say itContagious (con-TAY-juss)

What it means: A disease that can spread between people.

Where it comes from: Latin, contāgiō, “contact”

A person in shadow holding their nose like they're going to sneeze.

Brandon Nickerson/Pexels

Where you might see or hear it: If you have been exposed to someone with an infectious disease like COVID-19, your provider will want you to get tested. If you test positive, you could spread the infection to others—that is, you’re contagious.

When you might want to use it: If you test positive for COVID, you will need to tell your loved ones and any other close contacts (like the people you work with). You can explain that until you are no longer able to spread the infection, you’ll need to avoid being near them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ll need to stay home for at least 5 days after you test positive for COVID.

After that, it’s less likely that you’ll be able to get other people sick. However, it’s still helpful to wear a mask around others and practice social distancing.

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