The girl's only eventual symptom was a stuffy nose.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A four-state outbreak of coronavirus has been traced to its suspected source: a 13-year-old girl.

The teenager had been exposed to an outbreak and had a rapid test.

“It seemed like she did not have symptoms at the time of testing. Even though it was four days after her exposure, the test did come back negative, which is scary,” says Allegheny Health Network Dr. Sunjay Mannan. “I think that pushes me to think more toward testing only symptomatic people, because we may be falsely reassuring people that they’re negative.”

Her only eventual symptom was a stuffy nose.

“The family gathering did happen after she was symptomatic. She went there with a runny nose. The problem was the testing was negative so that was kind of false reassurance,” Dr. Mannan said.

The multi-state and CDC investigation, published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, focused on her family’s three-week gathering this past June. Fourteen relatives — representing five families — stayed in a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house. They did not wear masks or keep their distance.

“Had they had met outdoors, wearing a mask or six feet apart — so if one of those is met, you’re protecting yourself. If all of those are met, even better,” says Dr. Mannan.

Some other relatives visited for several hours but stayed outside.

“If you’re wearing a mask, and you’re within six feet, you’re better off. If you’re not wearing a mask, and you’re 15 feet apart, you’re better off. If you’re coming in contact with someone for less than a 15-minute duration, you’re better off. The more of those things you can check off, the better it would be,” Dr. Mannan said.

Of the 14 in the house, 12 developed symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19. One was hospitalized and one went to the ER. Both recovered.

The relatives who remained outdoors did not get sick.

“Offer masks to people when they come over. COVID is here to stay. Life has to go on. We just have to figure out ways to be smarter about gathering,” Dr. Mannan said.

In a semi-annual survey of teen consumption trends, 8 percent of American teenagers report a household case of coronavirus, which is higher than the national average of 6 percent.

Dr. Maria Simbra