CUHK Finds that the Coronavirus Can Persist in Stool after Its Clearance in Respiratory Tract Will Conduct Stool Test for People in Quarantine Camps for Early Identification
The Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CU Medicine) analysed more than 300 specimens (including sputum, nasopharyngeal swabs, deep throat saliva, blood, urine and stool) from 14 Hong Kong patients confirmed with COVID-19 and discovered that the virus was detectable in the fecal samples of all patients, regardless of the degree of illness. Three out of 14 patients still had viruses in their stool samples even though the virus was no longer found in sputum, nasopharyngeal and deep throat saliva samples. This finding suggests that virus shedding in stool is common and can be an alternative screening tool. Importantly, we should not overlook the potential risk of environmental contamination by virus shedding in stool.
In view of our finding, CU Medicine will in the first stage screen stool and saliva for 100 asymptomatic close contacts admitted to the quarantine centers. This will help determine whether stool test can effectively detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic persons.
All Studied Patients Have COVID-19 Virus Detected in their Fecal Samples
The research team collected and analysed more than 300 specimens from 14 confirmed cases, including respiratory, blood, urine and stool samples, to understand the virus distribution in human body. Below are the main findings:
- Sputum has the highest amount of coronavirus, more than 300 times as found in deep throat saliva.
- All patients had their stool tested positive during their course of illness, regardless of the degree of illness.
- The virus load in stool is comparable to deep throat saliva.
- 3 out of 14 patients still had virus in their stool samples for 1-2 days even though the virus was no longer found in respiratory samples.
- Blood positive rate was low.
- All urine samples were negative.