With the rise in number of COVID-19 positive cases in India, as well as around the world, various theories in regard to the transmission of the virus has confused scientists, doctors, medical practitioners, and every other person around the globe. While World Health Organization has acknowledged that the Virus spreads through direct contact with the infected patient and the credit for transmission goes to respiratory droplets but there can be many other ways through which it can spread.
As per the current studies and researches conducted, it spreads through direct contact, when an individual is infected through droplets even at a distance from a COVID positive person, if the patient has respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing, etc, if you come in contact with the infected person’s environment, or any object used or touched by the patient.
There have been a handful of studies so far to test whether feces or human excreta can contribute in transmission of the disease. In an American epidemiology journal, noted epidemiologist Susan Amirian writes,” Most of the studies that have been done so far are picking up viral RNA in feces, rather than infectious virus. However, a few studies have showed that infectious virus may be present in stool samples.” She also admitted apprehension that if the virus is found in stool, it can have grave consequences.
Although, the field of research has more to explore before reaching any conclusion whether feces is also contributing in transmission or not, it warns us to be more careful, while following personal hygiene. The March issue of journal, Gastroenterology, published in China brought forth the possibility of transmission through feces, where out of 73 patients tested, stool samples of 39 patients were found to be contaminated, which continued to remain positive even after their respiratory samples tested negative.
According to researchers, ACE2 protein present in the gastrointestinal tract acts as a helper for the virus to stay on the surface, and it is most likely for the same reason that those infected with COVID-19 often deal with issues like diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. It also brings forth the problem that feces might be a contributing cause in the increasing number of infected patients.
This study seems to find validation in another study from Singapore, which revealed the presence of viral particles on bathroom door, toilet seat, sink, and various other objects used by a COVID-19 positive patient in the bathroom. The Centre for Disease Control in the US, however, expects the spread of COVID-19 through feces of an infected person to be low. All scientists and researchers, however, agree that elaborate studies will be required to estimate the extent through which feces can lead to a spread of this infection.
Until confirmation from medical researches surface, it is advisable to maintain isolation from those who show any symptoms of gastro infection till the time diagnosis is done and further, put greater emphasis on personal hygiene as much as possible, taking all necessary precautions and safety measures.