COVID-19 possesses a strong GI component. As details on coronavirus symptoms and transmission evolve, it has become clear that COVID-19 has a gastrointestinal element. Commonly reported coronavirus symptoms include nausea, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea, which often present themselves before the onset of respiratory symptoms. In fact, in the latest study looking at GI symptoms associated with COVID-19, approximately 50% of those analyzed experienced diarrhea. Mild to moderate liver impairment has also been reported.
In a study published in Gastroenterology this February, scientists found that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the fecal-oral pathway. The study analyzed 73 coronavirus patients and found that over half of the stool samples tested positive for the virus. Positive stool tests ranged from day 1 to day 12 on average, but approximately 23% of the stool samples remained positive even after the respiratory samples were negative.
Takeaway: While these findings open up possible new avenues for COVID-19 testing, they also shed light on coronavirus symptoms and transmission. The media is primarily focused on the respiratory symptoms that arise in the later stages of the virus due to its life-threatening nature, but it’s important to know that GI symptoms may also be present in early stages of infection. In addition, it’s never been more important to wash your hands after a bowel movement. While airborne transmission is the primary mode of infection, this study suggests that coronavirus can also be transmitted through feces.