Coronavirus test: Testing your stools could hold clues of a possible COVID-19 infection

An expert has revealed that testing excrement could help provide early detection of a possible COVID-19 infection before other symptoms are visible. Researchers at Australian National University found those patients who were infected with the deadly virus first began excreting traces of COVID-19 almost a week before the flu-like symptoms started to emerge. Thus, proving the importance of stool testing in ordering for faster testing of possible COVID-19 infections in communities.


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A study similar to that in Australia was conducted in the Netherlands and showed positive traces of COVID-19 found in the faecal matter before the infection cases were officially reported.

Dr Aparna Lal said: “If there is early detection in sewage, it could narrow down efforts to find people in the community who are carrying the illness.

“If we can start detecting it, it may be a way that we can evaluate the impact of easing the restrictions.

”What this study will do is let us see whether sewage could be used to continuously monitor the presence of the virus in the community even when case numbers go down.

“This work will also tell us if sewage monitoring can serve as a warning system to give us a heads up before case numbers go up.”

The American Journal of Gastroenterology published a study which indicated that symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea along with abdominal pain were reported amongst COVID-19 patients during the early stages of infection.

That said, the study still noted the importance of respiratory symptoms in COVID-19 patients.

In the study of 204 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in China, researchers noted that nearly 49 percent of patients presented to the emergency department had gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.

Dr Arun Swaminath, associate professor of medicine at Zucker School of Medicine said: “The authors provide detailed clinical information from 204 patients suggesting that a small minatory had only GI symptoms without the respiratory symptoms.”

Thus, proving the importance of testing one’s stools for the warning symptoms of COVID-19.


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“The public and patients should understand that some GI symptoms (such as loose stools up to three times per day) may accompany respiratory complaints in almost half of patients.

“Physicians evaluating new GI complaints should consider COVID-19 and take appropriate precautions,” continued Dr Swaminath.

“No patients with underlying bowel diseases were included, so we don’t know how COVID-19 affects patients with underlying bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”

Gertjan Medema, professor and microbiologist, worked on the study testing stool samples for possible COVID-19 infections.

The study in Amersfoot, Netherlands, tested one sewage plant and showed it could potentially represent one million people.

Immunologist and Nobel laureate Professor Peter Doherty added: “The method sounds pretty unattractive but is a good screening measure into how many people could be infected.”

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