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COVID in Feces: Can COVID-19 Be Spread Through Through Feces?

COVID in Feces: Can COVID-19 Be Spread Through Through Feces?

Researchers studying COVID-19 have released their discovery of finding live samples of COVID in feces. According to them, this could potentially mean that the virus could spread through another method, called the fecal-oral route.

COVID in Feces: Why is There COVID-19 in Feces?

According to a report from the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, researchers from China have found live samples of COVID in feces taken from recently deceased patients. The researchers started collecting the fecal samples while the patients were still alive, and tested the samples for COVID-19.

Most of the samples only contained the virus’ RNA or the genetic components that makes up COVID-19. They attempted to isolate live SARS-CoV-2 virus from 3 of the PCR positive fecal samples. They succeeded in finding live SARS-CoV-2 virus in 2 out of 3 fecal samples.

These results could mean that the virus could potentially spread through feces and contaminated surfaces. This may include bathrooms, sinks, faucets, and the like.

Because of their findings, researchers recommend the thorough disinfection of all surfaces. This should help lower the risk of spreading the virus.

COVID in Feces: How Do Viruses Spread Through the Fecal-Oral Route?

One of the ways that people can get infected with certain viruses, such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E, is through what is called the fecal-oral route. This means that if a virus finds its way from a person’s feces, to another person’s mouth, that person can get infected.

This commonly happens as a result of poor hygiene practices, such as not washing your hands before eating or preparing food, or after using the toilet. Certain viruses can also spread if bathrooms are not regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Viruses can also spread through what is called a toilet plume. Toilet plumes happen when a person flushes the toilet, and some of the liquid inside that contains virus particles. In the case of a person who is infected with a virus, the virus could be transmitted from their feces into the toilet. Then it can get aerosolized when they flush the toilet.

If a virus gets aerosolized, a person could get infected just by inhaling the contaminated air or touching any surfaces that the virus may have contaminated.

How is COVID-19 Transmitted?

COVID in Feces: Can You Get Infected This Way?

The presence of live COVID in feces is pretty alarming news. If researchers can confirm a fecal-oral transmission, then COVID-19 becomes much more contagious than we had previously thought.

One possible risk of fecal-oral transmission is public toilets. Public toilets get used by different people, and not all public toilets get cleaned and disinfected thoroughly. Additionally, some public toilets are not well-maintained, and some do not even have toilet seat covers, or even hand soap available.

This could mean that if a person with COVID-19 uses a public toilet, then there is a chance that they can easily spread the virus to others. This also makes the virus difficult to trace, since anyone can use a public toilet.

Despite these risks, one important thing to consider is viral load or the amount of virus contained in a sample. If an infected person’s feces has a high viral load, then there is a high probability that a person can get infected. On the other hand, having a low viral load means that while the virus is present, the amount contained is not significant enough to cause infection.

Researchers have yet to find out whether or not the viral load in the feces of COVID-19 patients has a high viral load, or if it can even be spread through the fecal-oral route at all.

At the moment, the fecal-oral transmission of coronavirus has not yet been confirmed by the World Health Organization. More studies also need to be done to know all of the possible forms of transmission. Despite this, it is still a good idea to keep your surroundings clean and try to avoid using shared or public toilets as much as you can.

COVID in Feces: What Can You Do to Stay Safe?

Here are some useful tips to help you stay safe and free from infection:

  • Be sure to always wash your hands after using the bathroom, and before eating and preparing food.
  • As much as possible, try to avoid touching your face, especially if you have not washed your hands.
  • If you can, try to avoid using public restrooms.
  • It would also be a good idea to just stay at home if you can, in order to avoid infection.
  • If you need to go outside, be sure to wear a mask and keep your distance from other people.
  • It is also a good idea to avoid crowded places as much as possible. Being in crowded places can increase your risk of getting infected.
  • Be sure to eat healthy foods in order to help strengthen your immune system.
  • Engaging in exercise for at least 30 minutes a day should also help strengthen your immune system.

Avoiding infection not only prevents you from getting sick but also lowers the possibility that the virus can spread to other people. So it is always a good idea to be vigilant, and not be complacent when it comes to dealing with COVID-19.

Find more updates and information on COVID-19, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Scientists isolate live COVID-19 virus from feces, detect RNA on surfaces | CIDRAP, https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/05/scientists-isolate-live-covid-19-virus-feces-detect-rna-surfaces, Accessed June 22 2020

COVID-19 faecal-oral transmission: Are we asking the right questions? – ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720324360, Accessed June 22 2020

Can COVID-19 spread through fecal matter? Studies indicate genetic material of virus showing up in stool — ScienceDaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200514131710.htm, Accessed June 22 2020

Could flushing a public toilet really spread COVID-19?, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/06/could-flushing-public-toilet-plume-spread-coronavirus-cvd/, Accessed June 22 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently asked questions | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html, Accessed June 22 2020

Early Release – Infectious SARS-CoV-2 in Feces of Patient with Severe COVID-19 – Volume 26, Number 8—August 2020 – Emerging Infectious Diseases journal – CDC, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/8/20-0681_article, Accessed June 22 2020

Lifting the lid on toilet plume aerosol: A literature review with suggestions for future research, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4692156/, Accessed June 22 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara on Jun 22, 2020
Medically reviewed by Dr. Erika Caperonce
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