Scientists at Stanford University are gaining more clarity about the lingering COVID-19 symptoms that people may be suffering from.
Turns out, COVID-19 can remain in different parts of the body including the gut.
Wastewater surveillance has been a reliable way of tracking COVID-19 spread in communities.
But over the past two years, scientists at Stanford Medicine have taken an even deeper dive, looking at the actual feces of COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Ami Bhatt is the senior author of the new study that was just released this week.
“What was interesting in our study was that we not only found that SARS-CoV-2 generic material or RNA was in the stool sample of a large portion of our patients. But we actually found that people continued to shed SARS-CoV-2 RNA for weeks or even months,” she said.
Bhatt and her colleagues found about half of infected patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 began shedding traces of the virus in their waste in the week after infection.
But 13% of patients still had COVID-19 in their feces about four months later. Almost 4% of patients harbored COVID-19 in their waste about seven months later.
“To be able to interpret these findings, it’s critical that we understand the dynamics of fecal shedding in patients. That’s part of what we hope that we are able to achieve with studies like ours,” Bhatt said.
Mounting evidence that COVD-19 can actively infect the gut for months and those affected often suffer lingering gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
“I really think it’s just really important to keep an open mind about this virus and understand it is continuing to evolve,” Bhatt said.