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Microscopic view of Coronavirus
March 5, 2020

GI symptoms and potential fecal transmission in coronavirus patients

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The world is bracing for the impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which has now spread to over 30 countries, infecting more than 80,000 people with over 2,600 deaths globally. A better understanding of how this virus is transmitted is key to preventing its spread.

In two new papers published online in Gastroenterology, investigators from China describe the impact of coronavirus on the digestive tract. Key findings:

  • A significant portion of coronavirus patients have diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and/or abdominal discomfort before respiratory symptoms.
  • Researchers recommend monitoring patients with initial GI distress, which will allow for earlier detection, diagnosis, isolation and intervention.
  • Viral RNA is detectable in stool of patients with suspected coronavirus; it is now clear that the virus sheds into the stool.
  • Viral gastrointestinal infection and potential fecal-oral transmission can last even after viral clearance in respiratory tract.
  • Prevention of fecal-oral transmission should be taken into consideration to control the spread the virus.
Full papers

These papers will be published in the May print issue of Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

COVID-19: Gastrointestinal manifestations and potential fecal-oral transmission
By Jinyang Gu, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine Xinhua Hospital, China, et al.

Evidence for gastrointestinal infection of SARS-CoV-2
By Fei Xiao, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, et al.

The AGA Governing Board recognizes and shares the extreme uncertainty faced by the GI community regarding the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation. Read our latest statement regarding COVID-19.

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Contact for media: Rachel Shubert, media@gastro.org, 301-272-1603

About the AGA Institute 

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.

About Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology, the official journal of the AGA Institute, is the most prominent scientific journal in the specialty and is in the top 1 percent of indexed medical journals internationally. The journal publishes clinical and basic science studies of all aspects of the digestive system, including the liver and pancreas, as well as nutrition. The journal is abstracted and indexed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences, Chemical Abstracts, Current Contents, Excerpta Medica, Index Medicus, Nutrition Abstracts and Science Citation Index. For more information, visit www.gastrojournal.org.

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