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Virus surveillance project identifies first-known household COVID-19 transmission in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Oregon Child Absenteeism Due to Respiratory Disease Study (ORCHARDS) has been studying respiratory viruses since 2015, and since has found the first-known case of household transmission of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

ORCHARDS had Oregon School District families take nasal swabs after the schools closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One Oregon student got sick the day after her school closed, her and her families samples came back negative for flu and for 14 other respiratory viruses. But test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, weren’t yet available. The family recovered and the samples were frozen along with the rest from the school district.

Over a year later, study leaders were able to re-test the samples from the Oregon School District families before and once the SARS-CoV-2 tests were widely available.

The study found the student and her parents tested positive for COVID-19, identifying this as the first-known case of household transmission in Wisconsin.

ORCHARDS received a new three-year, $3 million grant from the CDC to continue to help schools and families navigate COVID-19 and other illnesses as school return to in-person instruction.