Scientists have found that Covid-19 patients may have an active and prolonged gut viral infection even if they show know symptoms.
Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong announced on Monday that the coronavirus may be able to continue replicating in digestive tracts of people who have contracted the virus. We know that the virus mainly spreads through respiratory droplets, but from the very beginning scientists theorized that the stool of infected patients may play a role in the transmission of the virus. Back in February of this year, a study of 73 patients found that more than half of them tested positive for the virus in their stool.
Siew Chien Ng, the assistant dean of medicine and associate director of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research said “We used to think of SARS-CoV-2 as just a pulmonary or respiratory disease, but over the last couple months, a lot of evidence has emerged that SARS-CoV-2 also affects the intestinal tract.”
The researchers collected 15 more samples and found the gut infection in seven of them. An interesting note from the study is that patients’ stool continued to test positive for the virus even a week after their respiratory test was negative. One patient was still positive after 30 days.
Ng believes that treatments that target the gut microbiome should be explored. The gut bacteria of infected patients saw a loss of microbes that protect the gastrointestinal tract and rapid growth of microbes that cause disease. Ng said that these effects were even worse when treated with antibiotics.
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