However at 4 months following analysis, when no extra COVID remained of their lungs, practically 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 analysis, researchers discovered.
Bhatt was fast to notice that the RNA constituted genetic remnants of the coronavirus, and never precise dwell virus — so it is unlikely an individual’s poop could possibly be contagious.
“Whereas there have been remoted stories of individuals with the ability to isolate dwell SARS-CoV-2 virus from stool, I feel that that is most likely a lot much less frequent than with the ability to isolate dwell virus from the respiratory tract,” Bhatt mentioned. “I do not suppose that our research suggests that there is a number 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 period than it sticks round within the respiratory tract, and there it will probably principally proceed to sort of tickle our immune system and induce a few of these long-term penalties,” Bhatt mentioned.
Lengthy COVID has change into 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 Ailments.
“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 techniques,” Schaffner mentioned.
“These information add to the notion that the cells within the gut could themselves be concerned with COVID viral an infection, and so they might doubtlessly be contributors to among the signs — stomach ache, nausea, sort of simply intestinal misery — that may be one side 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 group’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 recent infections in a group,” Schaffner mentioned. “It is one other factor now we have to consider and begin taking a look at going ahead.”