Home Monitoring for Fever: An Inexpensive Screening Method to Prevent Household Spread of COVID-19

Author(s): Justin Kim, Marcus A Threadcraft, Wei Xue, Sijie Yue, Richard P Wenzel, Frederick S Southwick

The COVID-19 pandemic surge has exceeded testing capacities in many parts of the world. We investigated the effectiveness of home temperature monitoring for early identification of COVID-19 patients. Study Design: We compared home temperature measurements from a convenience sample of 1180 individuals who reported being test positive for SARS-CoV-2 to an age, sex, and location matched control group of 1249 individuals who had not tested positive. Methods: All individuals monitored their temperature at home using an electronic smartphone thermometer that relayed temperature measurements and symptoms to a centralized cloud based, de-identified data bank. Results: Individuals varied in the number of times they monitored their temperature. When temperature was monitored for over 72 hours fever (> 37.6°C or 99.7°F or a change in temperature of > 1°C or 1.8°F) was detected in 73% of test positive individuals, a sensitivity comparable to rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests. When compared our control group the specificity of fever for COVID-19 was 0.70. However, when fever was combined with complaints of loss of taste and smell, difficulty breathing, fatigue, chills, diarrhea, or stuffy nose the odds ratio of having COVID-19 was sufficiently high as to obviate the need to employ RTPCR or antigen testing to screen for and isolate coronavirus infected cases. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that home temperature monitoring could serve as an inexpensive convenient screen for the onset of COVID-19, encourage earlier isolation of potentially infected individuals, and more effectively reduce the spread of infection in closed spaces.

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