The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is typically thought of as a respiratory illness. But two new studies have found that the virus can infect the heart, liver, brain, intestines and kidneys, CNN reported.
The two studies, from Hong Kong and Germany, are in line with what doctors are seeing in some of their most severe COVID-19 patients, who are experiencing strokes, blood clots and kidney failure.
The study from the University of Hong Kong studied the effects of the virus in the intestines. Using lab-grown intestinal organs from humans and bats, they found that the virus could live in there and replicate, meaning it could be a transmission source.
"The human intestinal tract might be a transmission route of SARS-CoV-2," the researchers said in the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The virus was also found in stool samples from one COVID-19 patient who was experiencing diarrhea.
And in Germany, researchers at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf autopsied the organs of 27 people who died from COVID-19 and found the virus throughout the body.
"SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in multiple organs, including the lungs, pharynx, heart, liver, brain, and kidneys," they said in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine., adding that the virus was particularly strong in the kidneys.
As more odd complications of COVID-19 emerge, doctors and researchers have come to realize that the virus is far more than the respiratory illness that it was initially believed to be.
“We don’t know why there are so many disease presentations,” Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told The Washington Post. “Bottom line, this is just so new that there’s a lot we don’t know.”
At the end of April, the Centers for Disease Control updated its list of COVID-19 symptoms to include new signs of the illness that had been discovered, including chills, muscle pain, headaches, sore throats and a loss of taste or smell.
The CDC noted, though, that “this list is not inclusive,” and that anybody suffering from severe or concerning symptoms that were not listed should get in touch with their medical provider.
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