However at 4 months following analysis, when no extra COVID remained of their lungs, almost 13% of sufferers continued to shed viral RNA of their feces.
About 4% nonetheless have 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 reside virus — so it is unlikely an individual’s poop might be contagious.
“Whereas there have been remoted experiences of individuals with 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 with the ability to isolate reside virus from the respiratory tract,” Bhatt mentioned. “I do not assume that our research suggests that there is numerous fecal-oral transmission.”
However the lingering presence of COVID within the intestine does counsel one potential affect for long-haul illness, she mentioned.
“SARS-CoV-2 is likely to 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 possibly mainly proceed to sort of tickle our immune system and induce a few of these long-term penalties,” Bhatt mentioned.
Lengthy COVID has turn out to be such a longtime drawback that many main medical facilities have established their very own lengthy COVID clinics to attempt to suss out signs and potential therapies, mentioned Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the Nationwide Basis for Infectious Ailments.
“A really substantial proportion of people who get well from COVID acutely nonetheless have lingering signs, they usually can contain an array of various organ programs,” Schaffner mentioned.
“These information add to the notion that the cells within the gut could themselves be concerned with COVID viral an infection, they usually might probably 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 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 have now to take into accounts and begin taking a look at going ahead.”