Excretion and detection of SARS coronavirus and its nucleic acid from digestive system (2005)

The aim of this study was to assess whether SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) could be excreted from the human digestive system. It was reported in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2005.

Cell culture and semi-nested RT-PCR were used to detect SARS-CoV and its RNA from 21 stool and urine samples, and a kind of electropositive filter media was used to concentrate the virus in 10 sewage samples from two hospitals receiving SARS patients in Beijing in China.

It was demonstrated that there was no live SARS-CoV in all samples collected, but the RNA of SARS-CoV could be detected in seven stool samples from SARS patients with any one of the symptoms of fever, malaise, cough, or dyspnea, in 10 sewage samples before disinfection and 3 samples after disinfection from the two hospitals. The RNA could not be detected in urine and stool samples from patients recovered from SARS.

The authors concluded that nucleic acid of SARS-CoV can be excreted through the stool of patients into sewage system, and that “the possibility of SARS-CoV transmitting through digestive system cannot be excluded”.


Wang XW, Li JS, Guo TK, Zhen B, Kong QX, Yi B, Li Z, Song N, Jin M, Wu XM, Xiao WJ, Zhu XM, Gu CQ, Yin J, Wei W, Yao W, Liu C, Li JF, Ou GR, Wang MN, Fang TY, Wang GJ, Qiu YH, Wu HH, Chao FH, Li JW. Excretion and detection of SARS coronavirus and its nucleic acid from digestive system. World J Gastroenterol 2005; 11(28): 4390-4395


Published by Stuart Khan

Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales

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