Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spreading Through Fecal Transmission?

The recent coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has become a public health crisis after causing 2400 deaths and infecting at least 80 thousand people worldwide. Researchers have assumed that fecal transmission of coronavirus has caused its huge widespread across the globe.

Coronavirus gained media attention in December 2019. Initially, a few workers form a local seafood market from Wuhan city complained about the persistent flu that wasn’t getting healed. But only in a matter of a few weeks, this flu-like disease turned into an epidemic and infected thousands of people.

Till the date, coronavirus has infected more than 75,000 people and all of them experienced general symptoms such as flu, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Started from mainland China, it has spread to 25 countries including Germany, France, England, and the USA. The infographic released by “Statista” explains the complete spreading sphere of this deadly virus.

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Due to the generalized symptoms, the medical experts believed it to be SARS and MERS. The viral structure of all these viruses is somewhat the same mainly because they belong to the same family. But coronavirus is way more deadly than SARS and MERS, says World Health Organization (WHO).

Initially, researchers said that it transmits and spreads like flu i.e. through droplets in cough and sneezing and physical contact with an infected surface or patient himself. But this new statement of fecal transmission of coronavirus is different and new because it is highly unlikely for a flu-like virus to spread with the fecal transmission. The experts working on tracking the roots and treatment of coronavirus have concluded that it is possible for this virus to spread through feces.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China) has published a report which says that this virus was seen in the stool samples of patients infected with the coronavirus. The presence of the virus in a stool sample clearly indicates that it could be a mode of transmission as well. These patients belonged to the northeastern province of China named Heilongjiang.

So in addition to the traditional modes of coronavirus transmission, this fecal-oral transmission is also added. It suggests that this virus could be transferred through food and water which enter the body via an oral (mouth, nose, eyes) route.

While physical contact and droplets are the most common routes of flu-like viruses’ transmission, it doesn’t justify such rapid widespread of coronavirus. So it is believed that coronavirus spreads with the fecal route, it justifies how it infected thousands of people in such a short time.

The WHO report writes;

“This virus has many routes of transmission, which can partially explain its strong transmission and fast transmission speed.”

A study evaluated the potential route of coronavirus based on this report. The complete findings of this study made it to a peer-reviewed journal Emerging Microbes & Infections recently.

This study tells that such viruses can infect people through the fecal-oral route. To investigate this, the researchers examined the stool sample swabs of 178 people, all of which were tested positive for coronavirus and admitted in a local hospital of Wuhan, the epicenter of this coronavirus outbreak.

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The sample analysis showed the virus in stools of all coronavirus infected patients. The research results say;  “We detected the virus in oral swabs, anal swabs and blood, thus infected patients can potentially shed this pathogen through respiratory, fecal-oral or body fluid routes.”

An editorial from The BMJlast week suggests that coronavirus is still a mystery and it also mentions a potential fecal transmission of coronavirus. 

It suggests that controlling coronavirus may not only involve nasal entry of the virus. Once the exact modes of transmission of coronavirus are confirmed, the medical experts would be able to plan a better control strategy to regulate the coronavirus outbreak.


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