However at 4 months following prognosis, when no extra COVID remained of their lungs, almost 13% of sufferers continued to shed viral RNA of their feces.
About 4% nonetheless had been shedding viral RNA of their feces seven months out from their preliminary prognosis, researchers discovered.
Bhatt was fast to notice that the RNA constituted genetic remnants of the coronavirus, and never precise reside virus — so it is unlikely an individual’s poop may very well be contagious.
“Whereas there have been remoted stories of individuals having the ability to isolate reside SARS-CoV-2 virus from stool, I believe that that is in all probability a lot much less frequent than having the ability to isolate reside virus from the respiratory tract,” Bhatt mentioned. “I do not suppose that our research suggests that there is a lot of fecal-oral transmission.”
However the lingering presence of COVID within the intestine does recommend one potential affect for long-haul illness, she mentioned.
“SARS-CoV-2 may be hanging out on the intestine and even different tissues for an extended time frame than it sticks round within the respiratory tract, and there it might probably principally proceed to type of tickle our immune system and induce a few of these long-term penalties,” Bhatt mentioned.
Lengthy COVID has grow to be such a longtime downside that many main medical facilities have established their very own lengthy COVID clinics to attempt to suss out signs and potential remedies, mentioned Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the Nationwide Basis for Infectious Illnesses.
“A really substantial proportion of people who recuperate from COVID acutely nonetheless have lingering signs, and so they can contain an array of various organ programs,” Schaffner mentioned.
“These knowledge add to the notion that the cells within the gut might themselves be concerned with COVID viral an infection, and so they may doubtlessly be contributors to a number of the signs — belly ache, nausea, type of simply intestinal misery — that may be one facet of lengthy COVID,” he mentioned.
Bhatt mentioned the findings even have implications for public well being efforts to foretell rising COVID outbreaks by testing a neighborhood’s wastewater for proof of the virus, and Schaffner agrees.
“If, as they are saying, about 4% of individuals seven or eight months later are nonetheless excreting viral remnants of their stool, it complicates the evaluation of the density of latest infections in a neighborhood,” Schaffner mentioned. “It is one other factor we’ve got to consider and begin taking a look at going ahead.”