Do you know Coronavirus can spread by fecal-oral route?

Do you know Coronavirus can spread by fecal-oral route?

Last Reviewed : 12/14/2020
Do you know Coronavirus can spread by fecal-oral route?

The most common entry of Coronavirus into human body is from the upper airways – nose and mouth. It can also infect people when they touch or rub their eyes. From upper airways, Coronavirus can rapidly spread into throat, lungs and blood causing more serious illness. Most of the COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat occur due to spread of the infection from the upper airways.

Another less common way of spread of infection is by fecal-oral route. During SARS epidemic caused by one of the Coronavirus strains in 2002-03, 16-73% of the patients had diarrhea during the course of the disease, usually within the first of illness. During another outbreak in 2012 caused by MERS- Coronavirus, a quarter of patients reported gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or abdominal pain. According to few published research studies, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain are seen in around 4-10% of the COVID-19 affected people. In some cases, gastrointestinal symptoms are seen before fever or respiratory symptoms develop.

One study published in J Med Virol. found that compared to throat swab specimens, nucleic acid detection of COVID-19 in fecal specimens was equally accurate. And interestingly, it also found that patients with a positive stool test did not experience gastrointestinal symptoms and had nothing to do with the severity of the lung infection.

Based on the published studies, Coronavirus can spread by the fecal-oral route. When affected people do not wash their hands thoroughly after using restroom and touch other objects like utensils, furniture or faucets, virus can spread and survive on these objects for several hours to days. When healthy individuals touch these objects, infection can spread to the healthy individuals.

Coronaviruses are susceptible to antiseptics containing ethanol, and disinfectants containing chlorine or bleach. Antiseptics and disinfectants should be used regularly to cleanse all the commonly used objects, especially when an infected person is quarantined in the household. Thorough and frequent handwash is the key to reduce COVID-19 illness spread.




  1. Fecal specimen diagnosis 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia. Zhang J et al. J Med Virol. 2020 Mar 3. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25742.
  2. Enteric involvement of coronaviruses: is faecal-oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 possible? Yeo C et al. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Apr;5(4):335-337. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30048-0
  3. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Chen N et al. Lancet. 2020; 395: 507-513
  4. Clinical characteristics of 138 hospitalized patients with 2019 novel coronavirus–infected pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Wang D et al. JAMA. 2020; DOI:10.1001/jama.2020.1585

Please leave your comments:

Related Articles