Study: COVID-19 Can Survive Longer in Eyes Than Noses

© AP Photo / Patrick SisonThis April 12, 2018 file photo shows the eye of a woman in New York. Patients are about to be enrolled in the first study to test gene editing inside the body to try to cure an inherited form of blindness. People with the disease have healthy eyes but lack a gene that converts light into signals to the brain that enable sight
This April 12, 2018 file photo shows the eye of a woman in New York.   Patients are about to be enrolled in the first study to test gene editing inside the body to try to cure an inherited form of blindness. People with the disease have healthy eyes but lack a gene that converts light into signals to the brain that enable sight - Sputnik International
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A recent case study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that COVID-19 might linger in the human eye longer than in other parts of the body, such as the nose.

According to the study, a 65-year-old woman traveled from Wuhan, China, to Italy in January 2020 and was admitted into a hospital on January 29, one day after she started experiencing coronavirus symptoms such as a dry cough and high fever. She also experienced a sore throat, eye inflammation, nausea and vomiting. The virus’s genetic material was found in ocular samples taken from the patient.

After 20 days in the hospital, her eye inflammation cleared up, and no virus material was detected in her nose. Ocular samples tested positive until the patient’s 21st day in the hospital. However, an ocular sample taken on her 27th day of hospitalization once again tested positive for the coronavirus, even though nasal samples remained negative.

The study suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can undergo “sustained replication in conjunctiva,” the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid. The researchers note the “importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth and eyes and frequent hand washing.”

“A related implication is the importance of appropriate use of personal protective equipment for ophthalmologists during clinical examination, because ocular mucosa [mucous membranes] may be not only a site of virus entry but also a source of contagion. Furthermore, we observed that ocular involvement of SARS-CoV-2 may occur early in the COVID-19 course, suggesting that measures to prevent transmission via this route must be implemented as early as possible,” the study notes.

Every day, new information regarding the virus is being disseminated. This week, US doctors have become increasingly suspicious that a new condition that causes purple, blue or red discoloration in toes and occasionally fingers, which has been exhibited in an increased number of patients around the country, may be connected to COVID-19.

In addition, loss of smell or taste and suffering from diarrhea have been noted as possible symptoms of infection by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

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