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What's The Difference Between Infection And Disease?

What’s the difference between infection and disease? It’s complicated. Joe Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth System Medical Director for Infectious Diseases explains here.  

You can have infection without having disease. However, if you have disease, you also have infection.  

To demonstrate, let’s talk about the cold sore virus and the chickenpox virus. Many people get cold sores. If you’ve ever had a cold sore, you have a chronic infection with the virus that causes cold sores. Though you may not have any lesions or sores, the infection is still there. You have asymptomatic infection with the virus that causes cold sores. Once you have a cold sore and have a lesion, that’s considered disease.  

The same is true for chickenpox. When someone has shingles, they have disease with a virus that’s always been in their body. That virus causes chickenpox.  

Want to learn more about common COVID-19 questions? Check our Fast Facts page. 

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