JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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The seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in a rural southwest community.

Context: The true prevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been difficult to determine due to limited testing, inconsistent symptom severity, and asymptomatic infections. Systematic investigation of the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 has been limited to urban environments and large academic centers. Limited data on the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 is available for those who live in a rural community setting, leaving rural practitioners to extrapolate the epidemiology of COVID-19 to a nonhomogeneous population.

Objective: To determine the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in a community setting. The secondary objective of this study was to describe the difference in infection rate and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing in the same rural community.

Methods: A prospective convenience sample of community members and healthcare workers from the Kingman, Arizona area were tested for SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies using a lateral flow immunoassay with the VITROS Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG test (Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc.) from September 28, 2020 to October 09, 2020. Upon recruitment, participants were asked to complete a demographic survey assessing socioeconomic status, comorbidities, and COVID-19 symptoms in the preceding two months. Following enrollment, a retrospective chart review was completed to determine the percentage of patients who had undergone previous SARS-CoV-RT-PCR testing.

Results: A total of 566 participants were included in the final analysis: 380 (67.1%) were women, 186 (32.9%) were men, a majority (458; 80.9%) self-identified as White, and 303 (53.5%) were employed as healthcare professionals. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 was found to be 8.0% (45 of 566) across the sample and 9.9% (30 of 303) in healthcare workers. No statistical difference in seroprevalence was found between men and women, healthcare workers and other participants, amongst racial groups, by socioeconomic status, by comorbid conditions, or by education level. Among the participants, 108 (19.1%) underwent previous RT-PCR testing. Of the 45 patients who were antibody positive, 27 (60%) had received a previous RT-PCR test, with 20 (44.4%) testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Participants with symptoms of anosmia/ageusia (p<0.001), chest congestion (p=0.047), fever (p=0.007), and shortness of breath (p=0.002) within the past two months were more likely to have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

Conclusion: Only 8% of 566 participants in this rural community setting were found to have antibodies for SARS-CoV-2. A large minority (18; 40%) of patients testing seropositive for SARs-CoV-2 had never received a prior test, suggesting that the actual rates of infection are higher than publicly available data suggest. Further large-scale antibody testing is needed to determine the true prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the rural setting.

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