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CDC adds six new COVID-19 symptoms

CDC lists chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell as new COVID-19 symptoms

CDC adds six new COVID-19 symptoms

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently added six new additions to its list of COVID-19 symptoms.

Initially, the CDC only listed three symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. However, as doctors and scientists continue to learn more about COVID-19 and how the infection affects patients, the agency expanded the list to include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

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“These are new to the lay public, but we have been seeing a smattering of these symptoms since the beginning,” said Faisal Masud, M.D., medical director of critical care at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Some of them are more prevalent than others.”

Because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, doctors are especially concerned about breathing. The CDC urges people to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any “emergency warning signs,” which include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse as well as bluish lips or face.

“If [a patient] starts feeling difficulty breathing, they have to make a lot of effort to breathe or their breathing rate goes up and they can’t catch their breath, those are the patients who should be seen urgently in the emergency room in the hospital,” Masud explained.

After someone is infected with the coronavirus, symptoms may appear any time from two to 14 days. This period is called the “presymptomatic” phase.

While not much definitive data is available on the number of presymptomatic cases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., said that up to 50 percent of cases are asymptomatic. According to Maria Van Kerkhove, Ph.D., COVID-19 lead scientist for the World Health Organization (WHO), 75 percent of patients who were asymptomatic at the time of testing developed symptoms.

“We know that … the transmission of this virus is driven by people who are asymptomatic,” Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist, said during a WHO press conference earlier this month where she emphasized the role of testing. “It is important for us to capture that full spectrum of illness—that full spectrum of detection—through surveillance.”

The CDC’s list is not all inclusive, the website noted. There are other symptoms doctors are observing regularly, such as diarrhea, that have not been added to the list, according to Masud. The CDC’s list is likely to expand as more symptoms are reported and the medical and scientific communities continue to gather more information.

“This is a disease we are all learning about in the past six months,” Masud said. “Everybody is learning on the job, including the CDC.”

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