Saliva of patients contain COVID-19 virusDate: 15 February 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can also be found in saliva, according to a study carried out on 12 patients admitted in hospitals with laboratory-confirmed infection.
The study carried out by researchers in Hong Kong and published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases has demonstrated the potential of using saliva as a non-invasive specimen for confirming infection and for viral load monitoring during the period of hospitalisation.
The use of saliva is preferred over nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal specimens because this would reduce the discomfort to the patient and reduce the health hazards to healthcare workers during repeated sampling.
The virus taken from the patients was also cultured in the lab. Three viral cultures tested positive for the virus, while two tested negative. This confirms that saliva contain live novel virus SARS-CoV-2.
The presence of live virus in saliva, as confirmed by positive culture, indicates that this body fluid may allow the spread of the virus. Besides direct or indirect contact, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through droplets.
Not only saliva secreted by salivary glands, the saliva specimens can also contain secretions coming down from the nasopharynx, or coming up from the lung via the action of cilia lining the airway.
Viral load often peaked at day 10 after symptom onset. Thus early detection and isolation of cases was strategic for infection control.