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Fecal matter of patients tests positive for coronavirus

By ZHANG ZHIHAO | | Updated: 2020-02-02 01:06
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Scientists have discovered that fecal samples from patients infected with the novel coronavirus also have tested positive for the virus, meaning it is highly possible that the live virus can exist and spread through contaminated fecal matter, the Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen said in an online statement Saturday.

The virus was also detected in the loose stool of the first patient in the US infected with the virus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The discovery may provide the missing link on how animal to human, and human to human spread of the novel coronavirus occurs, and prompt doctors to focus on detecting gastric signs and properly disposing patient's fecal matter.

At the start of the outbreak, scientists presumed the new virus was spread primarily through virus-containing droplets emitted by an infected person's cough or sneeze, though evidence of other routes existed for virus of its kind.

Researchers at the hospital said they are conducting further research into this revelation by isolating viruses from the stools. They also urged the public to pay attention to personal hygiene in addition to wearing a face mask and washing hands as preventive measures.

There are more than 130 different types of pathogenic viruses that are shed in human feces, according to a 2003 study done by the Danish Ministry of the Environment. Wildlife surveys conducted by EcoHealth Alliance in China and other parts of the world have found animals extruding coronaviruses through feces being a common phenomenon.

Scientists have found other coronaviruses not only can spread via air excreted by infected patients, but also if fecal matter comes in contact with another creature's mouth, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many of the emerging coronaviruses are known as pneumoenteric viruses, meaning they can grow in the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.

In 2003, around 10 to 20 percent of patients afflicted with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) reported diarrhea, the center said. Doctors have also reported diarrhea as one of the symptoms in the coronaviruses outbreak in China.

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