An asymptomatic carrier (healthy carrier or just carrier) is a person or other organism that has contracted an infectious disease, but who displays no symptoms. Although unaffected by the disease themselves, carriers can transmit it to others.
In humans, HIV goes through a long latency period, during which the host is asymptomatic. Many carriers are infected with persistent viruses such as EBV and Cytomegalovirus that only rarely progress to a disease state. Herpes simplex viral infection may also be asymptomatic and can be spread without the originally infected person realising they are infected.
Mary Mallon, known as "Typhoid Mary", was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever. She worked as a cook for several families in New York City at the beginning of the twentieth century and she also cooked for the soldiers. Several cases of typhoid fever in members of those families were traced to her by the Health Department. It appeared that she "carried" the infectious agent without becoming sick. There was at the time no way of eradicating the disease, and an attempt was made to restrict her from continuing to work as a cook to avoid spreading it to others.
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