SAN ANTONIO — Millions of Americans are taking advantage of the government's free at-home COVID test kit offer. But many still have questions about them.
KENS5 viewer Angela Flores wanted us to verify if they could be a risk to your health after you use them.
Are COVID test strips contagious after use?
- Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist with University Health and UT Health San Antonio
- Dr. Anita Kurian, the Assistant Director of San Antonio's Metro Health
WHAT WE FOUND
Dr. Jason Bowling told us, "You're getting a specimen from a nasal specimen and it could contain SARS-CoV-2 in it. So I would treat that is always contagious, so another person should not handle it. When you're testing for a pathogen inside a specimen, it's possible that you could potentially get that specimen. It's less likely than the normal way you could get it, but it's still possible."
Dr. Kurian added, "It is possible for people to get infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. In this case, like they use to strip. But the risk generally is considered to be very low."
So the answer is yes, COVID test strips are contagious after use, but the risk is low.
Both Dr. Bowling and Dr. Kurian say to treat the used test strip like a used tissue. Don't touch anyone else's and throw it in your regular trash as you would that tissue. And make sure to wash your hands before and after use.