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Current Affairs

Faeces sample can contain Coronavirus

Date: 25 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers from China have isolated infectious novel coronavirus from faeces of a patient who died. The study was able to confirm infectiousness of the virus isolated from faeces samples.

 

Background

While other researchers were able to show viral RNA in urine and faeces samples using molecular tests, such studies have not been able to tell if the virus was infectious in nature. 

 

Details

  • Confirmation of infectious virus in faeces samples raises the potential for faecal–oral or faecal–respiratory transmission through aerosolised faeces.

  • The findings indicate the need for appropriate precautions to avoid potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from faeces. Discharge and hospital cleaning practices should consider this possibility for critically ill patients or those who died who had high viral loads and are more likely to shed infectious virus.

  • Earlier, another team of researchers from China were able to isolate the virus from a single stool specimen and culture the virus. This led to the World Health Organization recognising that coronavirus infection may lead to intestinal infection and be present in faeces.

  • The first faeces specimen was collected on January 27 and tested positive for viral RNA. Researchers also collected samples on three more days, and all samples were positive for viral RNA. 

  • They were, however, not able to isolate the virus from faeces samples collected at later time points suggesting that the virus in faeces was not infectious when collected at later time points of disease onset.

  • The researchers collected faeces specimens from 28 patients and were able to isolate the virus from two of the three patients. This indicates that infectious virus in faeces is a “common manifestation” of COVID-19.