Viral load is the quantity of viral particles present in the body of a person (or an organism), potentially transported and released into the environment; for example with coughing and sneezing. The higher the quantity, the greater the potential contagiousness of a person. The index that measures the viral load is the Cycle Threshold CT.
What does a high or low viral load indicate
High viral load: A patient with high viral load levels will confirm the presence not only of an infection, but also that it is very active. This means that the subject is highly infectious and therefore it is absolutely necessary to isolate him and minimize contacts, even if asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic.
Low viral load: it means that the patient will be less infectious and therefore his degree of contagiousness is decidedly lower. But be careful, low viral load does not mean that there is no possibility of contagion, especially if you are faced with fragile people, which is why it is important to adopt all preventive sanitation rules.
Why measure viral load
Knowing a person’s viral load is useful for understanding at what stage of the infection the subject is and therefore its potential to infect other people.
Generally, the viral load increases until it reaches a peak just before the onset of symptoms (if they appear), and then drops rather quickly. Therefore, considering that the contagiousness is directly proportional to the viral load, the higher the one measured in a swab, the more the subject will be able to spread the virus (without necessarily presenting a greater severity of the disease).
Furthermore, measuring CT values undoubtedly also helps healthcare professionals to adequately manage positives and isolate those most at risk of super spread, or on the contrary free from quarantine those who are now cured and cannot harm the community, as well as report patients. more at risk of serious complications due to the presence of comorbidities.